Hamas Stick To Tough Line On Captured Israeli After Hezbollah Swap

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Gaza’s Hamas rulers are sticking to their tough line on the return of a captured Israeli soldier.

Hamas officials spoke after Israel’s decision Sunday to trade a Lebanese prisoner for the bodies of two other Israeli servicemen.

Hamas-affiliated militants captured Sergeant Gilad Schalit in a cross-border raid two years ago. Three weeks later, Hezbollah guerrillas crossed Israel’s northern border to grab the two soldiers.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert revealed yesterday that Israel had concluded the two were dead, just before the Cabinet approved the swap.

Unlike his comrades in Lebanon, Schalit is believed to be alive and has sent letters and an audio tape to his parents.

Monday, Gaza strongman Mahmoud Zahar told an independent radio station that Hamas would “have to take advantage” of the decision to win the release of its prisoners. Israel is holding about 10,000 Palestinians.