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Palestinians demand Israel release 1,000 prisoners
Yahoo News/Reuters
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
June 30, 2006 (posted July 25, 2006)

GAZA (Reuters) - Palestinian militant factions who captured an Israeli soldier demanded on Saturday that Israel free 1,000 prisoners from its jails and end an assault on Gaza launched to win the soldier's release.

A statement from the groups -- the second since Corporal Gilad Shalit was captured in a raid across Gaza's frontier on Sunday -- appeared to cast doubt on the hopes of mediators that diplomacy could soon get him free and demanded an end to "all Israeli aggression" in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank.

Israel has said it will not consider releasing prisoners in exchange for Shalit.

"We are declaring to the public our just and humanitarian demands," said the statement faxed to news agencies by the armed wing of the governing Hamas Islamist group, the Popular Resistance Committees and Army of Islam.

It repeated an earlier demand for the release of women prisoners and minors in exchange for information on Shalit, but made the added request for Israel to free 1,000 "Palestinian, Arab and Muslim prisoners."

It said these would have to include all Palestinian faction leaders as well as humanitarian cases.

The statement did not specify that this would be in exchange for Shalit's release, but Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for the Hamas armed wing, said that was what it meant.

The document cast doubt on mediation efforts.

"In spite of the good efforts of the mediators who tried in silence to speed up the treatment of this humanitarian matter, the enemy and their political leadership are still under the pressure of the security and military command," it said.

"The escalation and arrogance mean the enemy will be responsible for the bad consequences," it said. There was no specific threat to Shalit.

Mediators earlier voiced hope that their efforts could bear fruit.

Israel's tanks moved into southern Gaza on Wednesday and its aircraft fired missiles at training camps for militants early on Saturday, but the Jewish state has kept on hold a threatened ground offensive into northern Gaza.

Israel has said it is playing no part in mediation efforts.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, whose Hamas movement is officially committed to destroying Israel, demanded an end to the Israeli offensive on Friday and said it was complicating efforts to end the standoff.

Original Text

Note how the US media talks endlessly about one or two Israeli soldiers being kidnaped, but hardly a word about the 1000 Palestinians Israel kidnaped. The orginal title of this article called Palestinians "Militants." Does it take a militant to want your people freed? Regardless of how you feel about this conflict, we need to look at both sides and see whether we're being lied to again. We are.