Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri says even if prisoner exchange negotiations are completed, Israel will not end the siege of Gaza.
Zuhri made the remarks on Saturday following Israeli media reports quoting officials close to the negotiations as saying that a prisoner exchange would not mean an end to Israel’s three-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, the Maan news agency reported.
Many Gazans had believed that the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit would bring an end to the blockade.
But Zuhri said that an end to the siege is not one of the conditions for the release of the captured soldier.
However, Israel’s plan to continue the siege of Gaza even if its soldier is released is a continuation of the illegitimate regime’s assault on the Palestinian people, he added.
“Hamas will not surrender to the continued Israeli siege and will keep on searching for alternative endings to the suffering of the Palestinians,” Abu Zuhri asserted.
The Israeli blockade began in 2006 when Hamas won legislative elections, was intensified following the capture of Shalit in June of the same year, and turned into a total siege in 2007 when Hamas forces took control of Gaza.
The Israelis allow only a trickle of assistance into the besieged territory but are roundly condemned by human rights groups for the act of collective punishment, which is a violation of international law.
Jamal al-Khudari, the head of the People’s Committee Against the Siege, said the blockade of Gaza should end immediately and not be conditioned on Shalit’s release.
Al-Khudari called the siege illegal and insisted that Israel is obligated under international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention to allow the free passage of goods and people through their sovereign borders.