In Hamas' view, Gilad Shalit has turned into an "insurance policy" against an Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip. The group estimates that the invasion would have already taken place had Shalit not been held in a Gaza hideout.
According to reports received in Israel recently from Gaza, and by analyzing the kidnappers' conduct, it appears that Hamas' military wing is in no rush to finalize the prisoner swap. The contrary is true.
In their view, as long as they hold on to Gilad Shalit, Israel would carefully weigh any military move in the Strip.
Moreover, Shalit also serves as a personal insurance policy for the kidnappers themselves, headed by Ahmad Jabari, who heads Hamas'
Yesterday, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced that jailed Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti is also on the list of prisoners that the Hamas wants released. Yet it is highly doubtful whether Haniyeh has information regarding the names of prisoners that appear on the list, as he was not a party to preparing it, was not a party to the negotiations on Shalit's release, and is not even a dialogue partner in the abductors' view.
For a while now that Hamas' military wing has adopted an independent position vis-à-vis Hamas' political representatives in the Territories. The military wing's direct connections are with Damascus and with Khaled Mashaal.
Hamas' political leadership, headed by Ismail Haniyeh, is not only out of the kidnapping picture, in recent weeks the military wing has been displaying a much more independent and activist position regarding operations along the fence with Israel.
Partial list recieved
Indeed, in the past week we have seen a decrease in the number of Qassam rockets fired at Israel, but in recent weeks there have been more and more sniper-related incidents and more warnings regarding additional abductions of soldiers and civilians.
On Monday afternoon, Hamas members opened fire at an IDF force operating near the fence. The incident ended with no injuries and Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.
And if that was not enough, Hamas' military wing, through direct coordination with the Revolutionary Guard, intends to send not only Hamas activists but also members of the Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades members for military studies in Iran. All of this is done without coordinating it with the Hamas government or the President's Office.
Haniyeh's announcement regarding Barghouti's presence on the prisoner list expressed Hamas' great distress when it comes to this issue. Hamas leaders and the kidnappers are facing pressure by families, clans, and various other powerful elements that demand to see "their people" released.
Any publication of one list or another immediately draws a wave of intra-Palestinian pressure on Hamas heads and military wing members.
Meanwhile, Israel received a partial list only of 350 names instead of the 450-prisoner list agreed to. This may attest to debates regarding the drafting of the list and the possibility of additional lists arriving later – in accordance with the nature of the pressures.
For example, if Marwan Barghouti's name does not appear on the current list, as reported by Palestinian sources, the abductors have an opportunity to change it in the supplementary list. Everything depends on the extent and quality of pressures exerted on them.
In any event, negotiations based on the opening list sent to Israel are expected to be long and tiresome - a matter of several months at least. At the moment, the list is very problematic for Israel, to say the least. Overall, the names that appear on the list attest to the fact that the kidnappers are indeed in no rush to finalize a deal.