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Hamas threatens to kidnap IDF troops if prisoners aren´t freed (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service and Reuters 07/11/03 19:32 (GMT+3) Source: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/316675.html
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The Islamic militant group Hamas will start kidnapping Israeli soldiers to demand the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners if Israel does not free them under a three-month truce, a Hamas leader said on Friday.
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Nizar Rayyan, a political leader of Hamas, urged the Palestinian Authority and Arab mediators to press Israel to release all Palestinian prisoners.
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Israel has freed some prisoners but has said it will not release any who were involved in attacks on Israelis.
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"We will get you (prisoners) released under the truce if possible," Rayyan told 3,000 supporters at a rally in Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, referring to the ceasefire announced by militant groups on June 29.
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"But if the truce turns out not to have been the way to release you, we will return to (the strategy of) kidnapping Jewish officers and soldiers until the last Palestinian prisoner is freed," he said.
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Protesters waved Palestinian and Hamas flags and held posters of jailed militants.
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Hamas has kidnapped soldiers in the past to exchange them for Palestinian prisoners, including members of Hamas, but has not used the tactic since 1995 and not at all in the uprising for independence which the Palestinians began in September 2000.
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Israel say there are about 6,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails but the Palestinians put the number at about 8,000.
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Hamas and other militant groups have made their release a key condition for the truce to succeed. The ceasefire is vital to the U.S.-backed peace "road map" intended to end violence and establish a Palestinian state in 2005.
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"We will free you all without discrimination," Rayyan said. "You will either be liberated during the truce or we will liberate you through the kidnapping of soldiers."
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Dahlan´s bodyguards shoot Hamas man in Gaza ´mix-up´
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The bodyguards of Palestinian Minister for Security Affairs Mohammed Dahlan shot and wounded an armed Hamas activist in the Gaza Strip on Thursday night in what Dahlan aides later termed a "misunderstanding," Israel Radio reported Friday.
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The guards suspected that the Hamas man intended to fire on Dahlan´s vehicle and fired at him, wounding him in the leg. They then brought him to a hospital.
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Sources close to Dahlan said that the incident - which took place as Dahlan was returning from his meeting with Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz at the Erez checkpoint - reflected a "misunderstanding," and was not an attempt to assassinate Dahlan.
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The Mofaz-Dahlan meeting was aimed at "maintaining the momentum" of negotiations rather than reaching concrete agreements, Israeli sources said.
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Dahlan urged Israel to release more Palestinian prisoners and to transfer security authority for another West Bank city to the Palestinian Authority. But Mofaz rejected both requests, saying the PA must first begin disarming the terrorist organizations.
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Four Palestinians arrested in two infiltration attempts near Gaza
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Four Palestinians were arrested Thursday night in two separate infiltration attempts near the Gaza Strip. Two of the four were moderately wounded by security forces as they were apprehended.
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The four were unarmed and apparently entered Israel to look for work, or to carry out criminal activity.
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In the town of Kerem Shalom, near the Israeli border with Gaza, a Palestinian was detained after he was shot by the town´s security officer.
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At almost the same time, three Palestinians were intercepted by IDF troops between Kibbutz Mefalsim and Kibbutz Kfar Aza, also in the south of the country. One of the men was wounded by IDF fire. (© Copyright 2003 Haaretz. 07/11/03)
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