The Hamas movement decided to halt the indirect prisoner-swap talks with Israel in the aftermath of the assassination of Mahmoud al-Madbouh who was killed at a hotel in Dubai two nearly weeks ago. Hamas claims Israeli agents were behind the assassination.Ayman Taha, a senior political leader of Hamas, stated that indirect talks were fully halted, and that they can not resume under the current circumstances.
Taha added that the movement will make a final decision on the issue soon.
Al-Mabdouh was killed in his hotel room on January 20th. Israel holds him responsible for the abduction and the killing of two soldiers, and of smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stated Tuesday that Hamas is the obstacle to a prisoner-swap deal that could see the release of prisoner of war soldier, Gilad Shalit, in return to freeing hundreds of Palestinian detainees.
His statements came during a joint press conference with his Italian counterpart, Silvio Berlusconi, in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu said that “a deal is possible if Hamas wanted one”, and that the movement has the choice. He added that Israel wants a deal but at the same time “wants to make sure terrorists are not released”, according to Netanyahu.
Mahmoud Zahar, of Hamas, told the BBC that he holds Netanyahu personally responsible for the failure of prisoner-swap talks.
Zahar stated during the “Hard Talk” program that the talks became complicated after Netanyahu’s involvement in them, and added that Israel wants to banish dozens of detainees instead of sending them back home under the claim that they participated in deadly attacks against Israeli targets.
On Tuesday, the family of Gilad Shalit lashed out at Hamas and stated that Hamas leaders and the Hamas-run security forces in Gaza are violating the rights of the Palestinian people.
The family of Shalit said that Hamas is holding Shalit hostage without granting him his basic rights, and has kept thousands of Palestinians in intolerable situation for four years.
The parents of Shalit blamed Hamas for the Israeli siege imposed on Gaza, and said that Hamas is “forcing the people to live in hunger and poverty’.
They also stated that Hamas leaders are “stubborn” and that they “should put the interests of their own people above their political interests”.
Israel blames al-Madbouh for the killing of two Israeli soldiers. In 1988, fighters of the al-Qassam Brigades kidnapped corporal Avi Saports and killed him later on after Israeli refused to hold talks on a swap deal.
On May 3, 1989, the fighters kidnapped corporal Elan Sadoun and killed him. The brigades said its fighters killed him due to difficulties in bargaining on him and in keeping his hideout discrete.
After the Palestinian Authority was established and entered the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security forces arrested a number of fighters and according to the al-Qassam Brigades, tortured the fighters until they confessed to killing the two soldiers and led the interrogators to the burial site.
The bodies of the two soldiers were located seven years after they were kidnapped and killed.