Egypt to pick rest of detainees in swap deal: Hamas

AFP , Thursday 20 Oct 2011

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, says the Islamic movement will not choose which 550 prisoners in Israel are to be freed, Egypt to broker deal

Hamas
A masked Hamas militant kisses freed Palestinian prisoner Mahawish al Qadi, left, who was involved in organizing the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011. (Photo:AP)

Hamas will not be involved in picking the 550 prisoners to be freed by Israel in the second stage of a landmark exchange deal, the movement's armed wing said on on Thursday.

In a statement on its website, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said Israel and Egypt, which brokered the deal, would pick the names of the remaining Palestinians to be freed in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

"Hamas will not participate in the selection of the names to be released in the second stage," the statement said, adding that Egypt would however assist "in accordance with the standards and requirements of the (Hamas) movement."

Those requirements include a call for priority to be given to prisoners who are elderly, ill, or have served more than 20 years in jail.

The movement also called on Israel to avoid including prisoners whose term is nearly complete or those convicted of common law, rather than security offences.

 

Gaza's ruling Hamas movement announced on Wednesday it would give $2,000 to each prisoner released by Israel to the coastal territory under a landmark prisoner exchange deal.

"It has been decided that to honour the freed prisoners each of them will be given 2,000 US dollars," said a statement from the office of Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas government in Gaza.

On Tuesday, Israel freed 477 prisoners in the first stage of a deal to secure the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who spent more than five years as a captive in the Gaza Strip.

Under the deal, a total of 1,027 prisoners will be released -- some to their homes in Israel, east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, and others exiled to either the Gaza Strip or overseas to Syria, Qatar and Turkey.

Shalit returned home to his family on Tuesday afternoon, and Israel is set to release a second group of 550 Palestinian prisoners within two months.

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