Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal hails the release of 19 Palestinian detainees, describing the prisoner swap as a prelude to liberation of all Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
In a televised speech late on Friday in Damascus, Hamas’ political leader called the release of the Palestinian women held by Israel a ‘bright spot’ in the history of the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation.
He congratulated the Palestinian nation on the freedom of 19 detainees in return for a one-minute video of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was captured by the Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, in June 2006.
Addressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders, Mashaal said resistance fighters were able to capture more Israeli soldiers to exchange for more Palestinian prisoners.
The Palestinian leader said the Israeli occupation was "destined to end" and the Zionists would have to leave.
Mashaal called for a united front of the Arab nations and the Muslim community to confront ‘the Zionist scheme and the greed of foreign powers’.
He strongly rejected divisions within the Islamic Ummah as against Islamic teachings and said that all Muslims from North Africa through the Middle East to Malaysia must unite into a single bloc.
The senior Hamas official condemned Israeli efforts to give al-Quds a Jewish identity and smother its Palestinian and Islamic sanctities through establishment of numerous synagogues in the area and closing the al-Aqsa mosque on Palestinian worshippers.
The liberation of al-Quds, which Tel Aviv tries to hold back from any negotiations, will not be achieved by holding talks with Israel, but will be accomplished through sustained resistance, he said.
Mashaal further vowed that his movement would not compromise on the Palestinian territory and continue its struggle for the return of all Palestinian refugees and prisoners to their homes, stressing that Hamas reserved the right to resistance.
The Palestinian leader urged reconciliation between all Palestinian factions and called on rival Fatah leaders to voice their support for the Palestinian cause.