Hamas downplays internal dispute over prisoner cartoon
Hamas sought to downplay on Tuesday a rare public disagreement between one of its top leaders and its powerful armed wing over a cartoon warning Israel about the possible fate of a captive soldier.
Gaza City: Hamas sought to downplay on Tuesday a
rare public disagreement between one of its top leaders and
its powerful armed wing over a cartoon warning Israel about
the possible fate of a captive soldier.
Senior Hamas leader Mahmud al-Zahar said the cartoon did
not express the "official position" of the movement because it
suggested Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier, might one day be
returned to his family in a coffin.
But Hamas insisted there was no "contradiction" between
Zahar`s remarks and the three-minute, three-dimensional
cartoon it said clearly blamed Shalit`s possible death on
Israel delaying a prisoner swap.
"We reject the Zionist interpretation that spins the
meaning of the Qassam cartoon," senior Hamas leader Salah
al-Bardawil said in a statement, referring to the Ezzedine
al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the movement.
"It was clear that the tape blamed the Zionist enemy for
the results of the negligence, time wasting, procrastination
and deception practiced by successive (Israeli) governments,"
"There is no contradiction between this understanding
advanced by the Qassam tape and the statements of Doctor
Mahmud al-Zahar about the ethics of the Hamas movement in
dealing with prisoners."
The grim web video posted on Sunday shows Shalit`s father
Noam turning into an old man as he carries a picture of Gilad
through empty streets past billboards of past and present
Israeli leaders vowing to free his son.
In the end, as a bearded old man with a cane, he receives
the body in a coffin at the Gaza border before waking up and
realising it was all a dream, as a caption reads "There is
Zahar said the video "does not express the official
position of the Hamas movement" because it implied Shalit`s
captors might kill him.
"We have not and will not kill captive Israeli soldiers,"
he told reporters during a meeting with a South African
parliamentary delegation yesterday. "Our morals and our
religion prevent us from doing that."
Hamas, which hopes to exchange Shalit for hundreds of
Palestinians held in Israeli jails, including several
political leaders and top militants, has repeatedly said he is
alive and being treated well.
Negotiations for a possible exchange appeared to hit a
dead end in December, when Israel presented an offer through a
German mediator to which Hamas has yet to officially respond.
Each side has blamed the other over the stalled talks.