Hamas: Prisoners Deported in Shalit Deal Will Find Their Way Home

Egyptian official linked to talks tells Haaretz Israel agreed to release 40 of 70 prisoners it previously refused let go in return for Hamas's agreement to deportation of freed prisoners.

Haaretz Staff
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Haaretz Staff

Palestinian terrorists due to be deported as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap will no doubt find their way back to Palestinian land, a top Hamas official said on Sunday.

An Egyptian official linked to talks geared at securing the release of Shalit told Haaretz that "Israel in fact agreed to release 40 of the 70 prisoners that it had adamantly refused to let go, after Hamas submitted an extensive list of heavyweight prisoners from which Israel would choose. And Hamas, for its part, agreed that those prisoners would be deported."

However, speaking with Sir David Frost on Al Jazeera later on Sunday, top Hamas official and politburo member Osama Hamdan indicated that those deported would not necessarily stay away from the region for ever.

Asked by Frost where the deported inmates would go, Hamdan said: "It's their choice, and what had happened was, with the complete contact with them, I think they will live for a while outside Palestine, but that does not mean that they will not be in contact with their families, with their people."

"We have to realize that hundreds of Palestinians were deported during the last four decades and at the end of the story was that every time they were back home," the Hamas official said.

He said there were other "important points." There were people from Jerusalem who were released, "which was not accepted by the Israelis for decades. There were [Israeli] Arabs who were released, which is something Israel tried to prevent; there were people you committed militant operations against the Israelis directly and they were also released."

The comments by the Hamas strongman came after Hamas rejected the Palestinian Authority's accusations earlier Sunday that the deal to free Shalit is insufficient since it does not include the release of many Fatah members.

Top Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar told Army Radio that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "negotiated with Israel for a million years and hasn't achieved a deal like this one."

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