Israeli sanctions against Palestinian detainees in an effort to press Hamas will prompt the group to step up its demands for abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, a senior Hamas source told Ynet Wednesday night.
"Should Israel worsen the imprisonment conditions of the prisoners, Hamas shall respond by presenting tougher terms for the Shalit deal," the source said.
"The Israelis failed and are now trying to educate Hamas," the source said. "We can demand much greater numbers than the 450 prisoners. We can also demand that the three phases of the deal be merged into one phase."
'New Ron Arad'The Hamas source added: "If they want the soldier, they need to pay. If they don't want to pay, their soldier will remain imprisoned by us for eternity." Hamas is not concerned about the prospects of having to negotiate vis-à-vis a tougher government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, the source said.
"We want to free our jailed people, and for us it doesn't matter who releases them," he said. "The terms are known. Those who meet the terms will get Shalit, and those who don't should know that he will turn into a new Ron Arad."
The comments were made after a ministerial committee tasked with looking into ways of adopting sanctions against Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners held its first meeting Wednesday afternoon.
Among other proposals, committee members raised the option of lowering the sums of money handed over to security prisoners, minimizing their exposure to television and radio, reducing the number of visits they are entitled to, preventing any physical contact with their visitors, and minimizing their educational opportunities.
Gilad Shalit was abducted to Gaza 998 days ago.