A senior official of the Islamic Hamas movement in Gaza on Friday called on Palestinian militants to seize Israeli soldiers and exchange them with Palestinians held in Israeli jails.
The popular, political, media and diplomatic efforts inside and outside "can never be an alternative to the military efforts to rescue our prisoners from the oppressive occupation's prisons," said Ahmad Bahar, a Gaza-based Hamas leader and deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, in a press statement.
"We should be tireless of making every possible effort to seize Zionist soldiers and exchange them through prisoners swap deals," Bahar said.
In June 2006, Hamas militants and two other minor armed groups seized the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a cross-border raid southeast of the Gaza Strip. Shalit's captors asked for the release of 1,000 prisoners in exchange for him.
However, the mediation of Egypt and Germany had so far failed to finalize a prisoner swap deal between Hamas and Israel. Both sides traded accusations that the other was hindering the deal.
Around 6,000 Palestinian and Arab prisoners have been holding a gradual hunger strike in all the 25 Israeli jails for 10 days, protesting tightened measures imposed by the Israeli Prisons Authorities.
Bahar called on the Arab League and its secretary general as well as international rights organizations "to play a more important role to activate the prisoners' question and help release the Palestinian prisoners."
"It's unreasonable that United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki- moon visited Shalit's family but ignored thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails," Bahar said.