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Israel: Hamas gets month to negotiate Shalit release before assassinations begin

Aug. 21, 2008 2:10 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 21, 2008 2:10 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israel will assassinate Hamas leaders if kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is not returned, according to Hamas sources in Israel.

Sources leaked the information to the Arabic London daily paper Al-Quds Al-Arabi on Thursday. The source continued, saying that Egypt asked Hamas to carry out serious negotiations with Israel in order to reach a swap deal within a month's time.

In response to the issue spokesperson of Al-Qassam brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said that if the Salit file is not closed soon, it will turn into a second case like that of Ron Arad.

Arad was an Israeli soldier captured in 1986 by Hizbullah forces in Lebanon. Negotiations for his release failed in the late 1980s. Little was heard about Arad during the 1990s and early 2000s, though current reports say that he was either lost or has died. During the 16 July prisoner swap, photos and a journal belonging to Arad were handed over to Israel. Hizbullah says that Arad is dead and that they do not know where his remains are.

The Al-Quds Al-Arabi report and the Al-Qassam comments came within days of reports of a training camp for Hamas' military wings in the south end of the Gaza strip. During the camp it was said that abducting Israeli soldiers is the only way to guarantee the release of all Palestinian prisoners.

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