Kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit (YnetNews.com)
TEL AVIV – Palestinian terror organizations are training in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to carry out operations aimed at kidnapping Israeli soldiers, said a terror leader whose group in June abducted Israeli Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit.
The leader thanked the international community for what he said was its recognition that kidnappings of Israeli soldiers are not considered terrorism but “military operations that bring very big results.”
He told WorldNetDaily the “best way” to gain the freedom of thousands of Palestinians being held in Israeli jails, including convicted terrorists, is by more kidnappings of Israeli soldiers.
“We are now planning and training for the next kidnappings. Even if [Israel] releases hundreds of prisoners in exchange for Shalit, we still have thousands more to liberate. More Israeli soldiers must be abducted,” said the terror leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity amid reports Israel is considering releasing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit.
The leader is a senior member of the Popular Resistance Committees, a coalition of terror organizations operating in Gaza and the West Bank.
The Committees, together with Hamas and a new group calling itself the Palestine Army of Islam, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of Shalit, which prompted the first major ground invasion of Gaza since Israel withdrew from the territory last summer.
The terror leader said the Committees together with Hamas and members of Army of Islam are undergoing guerilla training for more kidnapping operations.
He would not say whether future attacks would mimic the operation in which Shalit was abducted. In that attack, Palestinian terrorists from Gaza emerged from a half-mile tunnel to raid a major Israeli military station.
Israel last month found a similar tunnel leading to near the same position from which Shalit was abducted.
Egypt has been attempting to mediate between Hamas and the Jewish state.
According to multiple media reports, deals being considered would involve Israel releasing a number of prisoners to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in exchange for Shalit being freed entirely or released to Egyptian custody; Hamas agreeing to a cease-fire and to stopping almost daily rocket attacks of Jewish communities near Gaza; and Israeli troops withdrawing from Gaza and ending targeted killings of Hamas leaders.
Israel’s leading Yediot Aharonot newspaper reported over the Labor Day weekend the Jewish state has agreed to release 800 to 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for Shalit.
Israeli diplomatic sources denied the report. The sources said a deal has not been struck and claimed any exchange would involve “smaller numbers” of Palestinian prisoners.
Israel has several times freed large numbers of prisoners, including convicted terrorists, in exchange for peace agreements or for the release of Israeli captives. Some of the freed prisoners have gone on to murder Israelis.
Israeli Hagar Ben-Ovadia was killed in Jerusalem by two Fatah men released by Israel in 1985. Israeli Eyal Yeverboim and his seven-month-old son were murdered in 2005 by terrorists released two months earlier to “strengthen” Abbas.
Meanwhile, Israel continues to maintain Shalit is being held in Khan Yunis, a large city in central Gaza.
In a WND exclusive interview last week, Abu Muhammad, leader of the Army of Islam, which was involved in the kidnapping, said it was possible Shalit was taken from Gaza into the neighboring Egyptian Sinai desert, which is known to be a stronghold for groups working on behalf of al-Qaida.
“It is not an impossible mission to smuggle anything or anyone from Gaza to Sinai,” said Abu Muhammad.
Egyptian and Palestinian guards are stationed along Egypt-Gaza crossings, but security officials say many border areas are penetrable.
Abu Muhammad refused to answer particular questions about Shalit’s abduction or whereabouts.
“At the moment of the kidnapping we said that no information will be given for free and you don’t expect me to give you any more information, do you?”