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Hamas: Kidnapping Israeli soldiers at ‘heart of our people’s culture’

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A Hamas spokesman said abducting Israeli soldiers and using them to barter for the release of militant fighters is the heart and soul of the group's operations, and they would not stop, no matter the political pressure.

Abu-Ubaida, a spokesman for the Iss ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, made the statements on his Facebook page in response to remarks by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who characterized such kidnappings as wrong.

The Hamas militant wrote: "Those who refuse to abduct Zionist soldiers renounce the pain and suffering of thousands of prisoners yearning for freedom. Operations to capture enemy soldiers and trade them for our heroic prisoners are at the heart of our people's culture, and are a source of pride for them and their resistance."

Mr. Abbas had pleaded for Israel to release Palestinian prisoners at during a Sunday speech at the World Economic Forum, The Times of Israel reported. In his remarks, he reminded Israel of the dragged-out diplomatic struggle to gain the release of IDF's Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped and held hostage by Hamas for five years. Mr. Shalit was only let go when Israel released a large number of Palestinian prisoners.

"Do you want us to abduct other Shalits? This is not part of our culture. We cannot do this," Mr. Abbas said, at the forum, The Times of Israel reported.

The Hamas Facebook posting countered that claim: Yes, it is part of our culture, Abu-Ubaida wrote. And Hamas wasn't the only entity to take umbrage with Mr. Abbas' speech.

The Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi editorialized on Tuesday, The Times of Israel reported: "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas uses every opportunity to stress his friendship with Israel, his care for its security, and his readiness to negotiate with it. ... President Abbas forgets that [the Shalit] kidnapping brought about the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, a large number of whom belong to Fatah."

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