Egypt has warned Hamas leaders that Israel may target them if the organization refuses to compromise on its inflexible stance in the negotiations to secure the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit – Hamas officials are quoted as telling the London-based 'Al-Quds Al-Arabi' newspaper.
The sources report a genuine schism has developed between Hamas and Cairo - which is mediating the indirect talks. One of the main points of contention is the warning relayed by the Egyptian officials that Israel would not grant immunity to any Hamas leader. Hamas rejected the threat and maintained the group's position would not be changed.
Another chink in the relations between Hamas and Egypt is the linking of the Shalit deal to the Rafah border crossing.
Egypt is unwilling to open the crossing at present time, and appears interested in doing so only after the Shalit crisis is resolved. Cairo maintains that Israel sees the two issues as related. Egypt has said it is interested in launching direct negotiations between Hamas and Israel.
Hamas' military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, issued a warning to Israel on Wednesday, saying that Shalit's fate will be similar to that of MIA navigator Ron Arad unless Israel accepts Hamas' demands in the talks
Group spokesman Ubi Obeida accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of thwarting the deal.
"We warn the enemy against continuing its policy. If it continues with the insistence approach, Shalit will be considered a second Ron Arad," he said, accusing the Palestinian Authority and Fayyad's government of contributing to the delay in the implementation of the deal.
"Abbas and Fayyad are not interested in seeing the Palestinian resistance achieve an honorable deal, as they do not believe in the way of the resistance. They only believe in the road of negotiations and in pleading with the enemy, and manage to release prisoners whose jail term was close to its end like in the recent list."
Abu Obeida noted that the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers will continue to be an option as far as his organization is concerned, as long as Palestinian prisoners are jailed in Israel.
Popular Resistance Committees spokesman Abu Abir told Ynet earlier this week that the group was drilling future raids to send a message that "if the Israelis don't resolve the Palestinian prisoners issue soon and contemplate attacking Gaza, the Palestinian resistance is prepared to not only defend the Strip but also take the initiative and kidnap more soldiers who will never see the light of day unless a prisoner exchange deal is signed."