Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Dr Musa Abu-Marzuq, vice chairman of Hamas’s Political Bureau, has denied received during his visit to Gaza Strip last month a written message or a videotape of captured Israeli soldier Gil’ad Shalit.
Speaking by telephone to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said that he was on a family visit to the Gaza Strip to see his mother and other family members, did not meet any leaders from the Hamas movement’s military wing Al-Qassam Brigades, and did not carry any written messages from soldier Gil’ad Shalit or videotapes of him. He added: “I have no information about Shalit and do not know if he is dead or alive. The factions holding soldier Shalit are the ones who know his fate and will not give any information about him without a price.” He stressed that “the prisoners’ swap deal is with Cairo and there is nothing new in this dossier which will remain in Egypt’s hands regardless of the many brokers Israel brings to us.”
He went on to say that “Israel is sometimes sending English brokers, sometimes Germans and French, Russians, and Arabs to act and bypass the Egyptian mediation. But we assert that this dossier is with Cairo and Shalit will not be released except with the release of all the number of prisoners we have demanded, which is 450 prisoners and in accordance with the criteria laid down by us, in addition to 550 others who are children, women, ministers, and Legislative Council members.”
In reply to a question about Israel’s insistence on linking the calm dossier to Shalit’s release, Abu-Marzuq said “Shalit’s release is linked to the prisoners’ swap deal. We reject linking the prisoners’ issue to the calm. This is the movement’s final stand and it will not budge from it at all.”