Salah Bardaweel, a prominent political leader of the Hamas movement, denied an Israeli report claiming that Hamas and Israel are holding talks on a prisoner-swap deal. Bardaweel added that the statements of Israel’s Prime Minister, Ofir Gendelman, are only meant for propaganda purposes.

He also said that the government of Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, wants to send a message to the Israelis to claim that progress was made in the efforts to achieve a swap deal that would ensure the release of prisoner of war, Corporal Gilad Shalit.

However, Bardaweel denied the reports and only stated that an achievement was made in reconciliation talks with Fatah, and that both movements have the needed political will and determination to achieve a unity deal that would end the various internal divisions and tension.

Furthermore, Hamas political leader Ismael Radwan said there is nothing new in the Shalit file, and called on the Palestinian detainees imprisoned by Israel to remain steadfast in order to achieve their legitimate rights.

Gilad Shalit was captured in mid 2006 by three Palestinian groups after attacking an Israeli military base near the Gaza border. Two soldiers and two settlers were killed in the attack.

Shalit is the only Israeli prisoner in the hands of the Palestinians. More than 8,500 Palestinians, including children, women and elderly, are imprisoned by Israel. Dozens of detainees have been in prison for more than 25 years.

Dozens of women and children are still imprisoned by Israel and are facing ongoing violations, the Palestinian Prisoners Society reported.