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Haniyeh: Capturing Israeli soldiers is a top Hamas priority

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Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday that capturing Israeli soldiers was the best method for achieving freedom for Palestinian prisoners.

"Abducting Israeli soldiers is a top priority on the agenda of Hamas and the Palestinian resistance," Haniyeh said during a conference focusing on Palestinian prisoners in Gaza City.

Haniyeh said that as long as there were Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, the best method to free them would be capturing Israeli soldiers.

"Negotiations with the occupation have failed," he stressed, calling the failure of US-backed PLO-Israel negotiations an "unquestionable fact."

In June 2006, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured by a group militants who snuck into Israel through a tunnel and took their prisoner back to Gaza the same way.

Oct. 18, 2011 Shalit was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

Hamas feted the prisoner swap as a major victory.

Some 4,880 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails as of January 2014, according to Israeli human rights organization B\’tselem. Another 1,415 were in Israeli prisons for being inside Israel without permits.

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