Hamas threatens to kidnap Israeli soldiers

The spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmad Yasin, has warned that his movement plans to kidnap Israeli soldiers to swap for Palestinian prisoners held by the Jewish state.

    Yasin has survived an Israeli assassination attempt

    "Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas' armed wing) have planned, are planning and will continue to plan until they succeed," Yasin told reporters on Friday when asked whether his movement would follow Hizb Allah example and capture soldiers. 

    Israel released some 400 Palestinian prisoners on Thursday as part of a controversial deal with Hizb Allah in exchange for an Israeli businessman and the bodies of three soldiers captured by Lebanon's resistance group.

    Yasin said he had long believed that Israel would only be willing to release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the freedom of its own captives. 

    "I have said ever since my release in 1997 that the only way of solving the prisoners issue would be by kidnapping enemy soldiers for exchange as they only understand the language of force," he said. 

    Yasin was released in October 1997 after spending eight years in Israeli detention. 

    Exchange deal

    His release, along with dozens of other Palestinian and Jordanian prisoners, formed part of an exchange deal for two Israeli agents captured in Amman while on a mission to assassinate a senior Hamas official. 

    The 67-year-old Yasin himself survived an Israeli assassination attempt last September during an air raid in Gaza City, and Israel's deputy defence minister Zeev Boim said in mid-January that he has been "marked for death". 

    The wheelchair-bound cleric said that Hamas and other Palestinian factions had frequently tried to kidnap Israelis but faced major obstacles. 

    "It is difficult and complicated for the Israeli soldiers are careful, but as long as the intentions and preparations are in place, we will succeed today or tomorrow," he added. 



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