While the Shalit family marked the fifth Passover without their son, Kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, Hamas threatened to kidnap more Israelis in order to improve their bargaining position in prisoner exchange negotiations.
Hamas' weekly newspaper al-Risalah reported on Sunday that the organization is taking advantage of the relative calm in the south to "plan more kidnappings in the near future."
The editorial noted that Hamas is aware of the fact that another abduction might lead to a military escalation in the Gaza Strip, which may result in "the killing of (Gilad) Shalit."
"The resistance is coming closer to conducting another kidnapping," the article stated, adding that Israel's call to its citizens to leave the Sinai Peninsula coupled with the heightened alert at the Egyptian border pointed to "increasing Israeli concerns."
According to the authors, another kidnapping "would create essential pressure that would lead to the release of Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel as part of an exchange deal."
The article also quoted military and political commentators who claimed that Israel "was worried about another kidnapping because such a step would pressure the government to consent to Palestinian demands."
According to the authors, the last abduction attempt took place during Operation Cast Lead, when "Hamas members managed to kidnap a soldier in the Eastern part of the Gaza Strip and hold him inside an apartment, until Israel bombarded the place and killed the armed men and the soldier."
Deadlocked NegotiationsLast week, Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram reported that a new European element has stepped in to replace Gerhard Konrad as the mediator in efforts to free captive soldier Gilad Shalit.
The Prime Minister's Office said in response that it would continue to hold talks for the release of Shalit under the guidance of German mediator Gerhard Konrad and "according to the proposal he has constructed".
Shortly after, Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said that the organization never asked for the replacement of the German mediator in the negotiations to release the captive soldier.
"Who said that we are interested replacing the mediator? It's not true," al-Zahar said in an interview with the Al-Aqsa television channel, which is associated with the organization.
Al-Zahar added that no talks have taken place on the deal to release Shalit in recent months, and that the issue is in a total deadlock.
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