Senior Hamas member Mahmoud al-Zahar spoke Wednesday at a Gaza Strip event marking the 60th anniversary of the Nakba – the anniversary of the 1948 events which led to the induction of the State of Israel – and promised his listeners that "the right of return is closer than ever."
"The Palestinians and the Arabs have crushed the Jews' assumption of supremacy… The Zionist legend of invincibility has been destroyed.
"Now more than ever I tell you – we will never recognize Israel… We will form the Palestinian state on all of Palestine's territories and the sun of liberty will burn the Zionists. To them I say – you will lose. You will leave and we will keep hounding you. The blood of our slain sons will haunt you forever," he said.
Prior to Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman's visit to Israel in an attempt to push a truce between Israel and the armed Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip, al-Zahar reiterated that "Hamas will not offer Gilad Shalit for nothing."
Any talks regarding a prisoner swap will be held independently from any ceasefire discussions, "and anyone who believes Shalit's case can be resolved indiscreetly in wrong."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who all met with Suleiman, informed him that Shalit's release is a precondition to any agreement brokered by Egypt.
"We're looking for actions, not statements," Livni told Suleiman. "As long as Gaza is being controlled by Hamas, we hold it responsible for Shalit's safety… And no deal can be made while he is in captivity."
Shalit's father, Noam, told Ynet Monday that it was 'inconceivable' that any agreement with Hamas would exclude his son's release.