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Hamas hails prisoners for Shalit video deal

RIA Novosti

22:14 02/10/2009 GAZA, October 2 (RIA Novosti) - Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh praised on Friday the release of Palestinian female prisoners in exchange for a video of an Israeli soldier abducted three years ago.

Israel agreed to trade 20 prisoners for a two-minute video of Gilad Shalit, seized in June 2006 by Palestinian militants while on patrol near the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian women released from Israeli prisons have all served at least two thirds of their sentences.

"It's strange, however, that the world is focused on one soldier while 11,000 Palestinian prisoners are being kept in Israeli prisons," Haniyeh said at a joint news conference with one of the released women.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said he was satisfied with the exchange.

"The video tape is very important as it shows Gilad Shalit's condition and confirms that Hamas holds absolute responsibility for his health," he said.

A source that watched the video said Shalit can be seen holding a foreign newspaper dated a few weeks ago, according to

Last week, Egypt's foreign minister urged Israel to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit. Egypt is a mediator in Israeli-Palestinian talks on the issue.

In early September, Israeli authorities released nine of 30 Hamas lawmakers arrested in 2006 in response to Shalit's abduction.

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