Hamas on Monday hinted it was planning to kidnap Israeli soldiers after failing to negotiate a prisoner exchange deal with Israel, announced the spokesman for the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas.
Abu Obeida said in an interview with a Hamas-affiliated website that the decision to increase the number of soldiers held by the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades remains effective and is being carried out.
He warned that the Israeli enemy would regret its intransigence regarding a new prisoner-exchange deal, and Tel Aviv's alleged refusal to release thousands of Palestinian security prisoners held in Israeli jails in return for the bodies of the soldiers.
The spokesman asserted that the leadership and the resistance would spare no effort and time to free the prisoners. He addressed the prisoners saying they were "a top priority," and their freedom was "a debt and a decision."
Last week, Hamas leaders made several similar threats during celebrations marking the 35th anniversary of the founding of Hamas.
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said the group gave Israel a limited time to complete the prisoner exchange deal. Otherwise, the group would "close the file of the four enemy prisoners forever and find another way to liberate our prisoners."
The first commander of the al-Qassam Brigade, Mohammed Deif, made a similar threat.
Hamas detained two Israeli soldiers in Gaza, Oron Shaul and Officer Hadar Goldin, captured by the al-Qassam Brigades during the war of 2014, while Israel said they were killed.
The movement also holds two Israeli citizens who crossed into Gaza on their own accord, including Avraham Mengistu (Ethiopian origin) and Hashem al-Sayid (an Arab from the Negev).
Negotiations between Israel and Hamas were done through Egyptian and German mediators, but they did not yield any results.
Israel claimed Hamas was asking for the release of 1,000 prisoners, while the movement said Tel Aviv was not serious and its leadership was not brave enough to reach a deal.