Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday said that Israel's willingness to release a blood-soaked killer like Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar in exchange for the corpses of two Israeli soldiers would significantly raise the price Jerusalem must pay for the freedom of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Shalit was nabbed by Hamas-allied terrorists in June 2006, and has been held in Gaza ever since. Several vague signs of life have been provided by the terrorists.
Originally, Hamas had insisted on the release of 450 jailed Palestinian terrorists in exchange for Shalit, and under Egyptian pressure had appeared close to relinquishing their demand for the release of numerous terrorists who had succeeded in murdering Israelis.
But with the release of Kuntar, Haniyeh said it was clear that Israel could be forced to renege on its policy of not releasing terrorists with "blood on their hands."
"The release of Kuntar will pave the way for the release of a large number of our prisoners who, according to Israel, have blood on their hands," Haniyeh told reporters. "This means that those who killed Israelis will also be released."
Haniyeh also said the overall number of prisoners Israel must trade for Shalit had increased from 450 to "thousands."
Other Hamas leaders echoed their Hizballah comrades in noting that the Israel-Lebanon prisoner swap had proven that violence against Israel was capable of achieving the Arabs' demands far faster than diplomatic negotiations.