After swap, Hamas plots kidnappings of Israeli soldiers

Sunday, February 1, 2004

GAZA CITY Hamas said it plans to invest a greater effort into abducting Israeli soldiers.

Hamas leaders said Hizbullah demonstrated the effectiveness of abducting Israeli soldiers. Hizbullah won the release of 400 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for an Israeli civilian and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers killed along the Israeli-Lebanese border in 2000.

The Islamic movement, seeking to build on the example set by Hizbullah, said the capture of Israeli soldiers would be used to win the release of its members and other Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. So far, the movement said, its efforts to kidnap Israeli soldiers have failed.

"The factions will spare no effort to kidnap Israeli soldiers and they tried many times," Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin said on Friday, Middle East Newsline reported. "But the Israeli soldier today is careful as a bird is about its chick."

"There is no solution to the prisoner issue other than the abduction of enemy soldiers and exchanging them for our own prisoners," Yassin said. Israel is said to be holding 7,000 Palestinian prisoners. Many of them were captured during the last three years of the Israeli-Palestinian war.

Over the weekend, Hamas gunners fired a Kassam-2 short-range missile toward Israel. Nobody was injured in the attack.

Hamas also took responsibility for the suicide bombing on an Israeli passenger bus in Jerusalem on Thursday in which 11 people were killed.

Israeli military sources said the intelligence community has received dozens of alerts of a Palestinian attack.

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