Hamas Revising Prisoner List

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CBNNews.com - GAZA STRIP - Hamas began revising the list of prisoners it wants released in exchange for Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Corporal Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas in a cross-border attack on June 25, 2006.

The revised list will be forwarded to Egyptian officials, who will present the list to Israel to review.

While Hamas officials initially refused to negotiate Shalit's release in connection with the Egyptian-brokered tahdiyah (temporary calm), they've decided that Israel will not move forward with the truce or consider reopening border crossings without Shalit's release.

Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman urged Hamas to negotiate the truce and Shalit's release simultaneously, but theoretically not dependent on one another.

Hamas has upped the ante to 1,450 Palestinian prisoners to be released in three stages. The initial 100 prisoners would be freed in exchange for transporting Shalit to Egypt.

Once he's in Egypt, Israel would release an additional 350 prisoners.

At a yet unspecified future date, Israel would free another 1,000 Palestinian prisoners as a "gesture to Egypt."

According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the Egyptians have their own stake in Shalit's release.

"[Corporal Shalit's release] is an Egyptian interest no less than an Israeli interest," he said.

"This situation is likely to worsen relations between the Palestinians and Egypt because Egypt will not be able to stand aloof if thousands of people start to stream into it from Gaza," he said, referring to last January's border breach at the Rafah crossing, when tens of thousands of Gazans entered Egypt.

"We cannot abide a situation in which we have to fire on Palestinian civilians in order to prevent their entry into Egypt," the official said.

Hamas, meanwhile, is demanding that Egypt open the Rafah border crossing, between the Sinai and Gaza, whether the truce occurs or not.

"We expect Egypt to adhere to this commitment and open the Rafah crossing immediately," one Hamas official said.

Source: Haaretz

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