Hamas: Shalit Deal Would Have Failed Had We Insisted on Top Palestinian Prisoners

Gaza-ruling militant group coming under fire for failing to release Fatah bigwig Marwan Barghouti; Gaza official: Hamas withholds final list fearing public backlash.

A newly signed prisoner exchange deal geared at releasing Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit would have imploded if Hamas had insisted on the release of Fatah strongmen, the Gaza-ruling militant group said on Thursday.

Hamas' position concerning the Shalit prisoner swap deal was revealed following recent Palestinian criticism of the agreement, according to which Hamas should have secured the release of Fatah bigwigs Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Saadat.


Responding to Palestinian disapproving voices, Hamas officials said that the group was not even able to secure the release of some of its own top prisoners – such as Abdullah Barghouti and Hassan Salameh – having realized that an insistence on their release would kill any chances for a deal to be reached.

Another criticism hurled at the group concerns Hamas' failure to release the final list of prisoners due to be set free as part of the Shalit deal.

A Palestinian official in Gaza told Haaretz on Thursday that Hamas feared harsh backlash from Palestinian prisoners' families once it becomes clear that many Palestinian faction heads and top prisoners will not be released as part of the deal.

Hamas officials have rejected this accusation as well, claiming that the list had not been published out of purely technical reasons and in order to ensure their release and to prevent any last-minute changes by Israel.

Earlier Thursday, Hamas published the list of the 27 female prisoners expected to be set free as part of the Shalit deal, a list which includes the names of two Israeli-Arab inmates – Lina Jarbouni and Verod Kassen.

Jarbouni was indicted of assisting terror activity, while Kassen was charged of planning a bombing in Tel Aviv. It is not yet clear whether the two are included in the list of 6 Israeli Arab prisoners due to be released as part of the Shalit deal.