Egypt, Israel to pick remaining detainees: Hamas

by Nasra Ismail and Biodun Iginla, BBC News

Hamas will not be involved in picking the 550 prisoners to be freed by Israel in the second stage of a landmark exchange deal, the movement’s armed wing said on Thursday.

In a statement on its website, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said Israel and Egypt, which brokered the deal, would pick the names of the remaining Palestinians to be freed in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

"Hamas will not participate in the selection of the names to be released in the second stage," the statement said, adding that Egypt would however assist "in accordance with the standards and requirements of the (Hamas) movement."

Those requirements include a call for priority to be given to prisoners who are elderly, ill, or have served more than 20 years in jail.

The movement also called on Israel to avoid including prisoners whose term is nearly complete or those convicted of common law, rather than security offences.

Israel on Tuesday freed 477 prisoners — 450 men and 27 women — in the first stage of an exchange deal that saw Shalit released from more than five years of captivity in Gaza.

Saleh al-Arouri, a Syria-based Hamas official, told the movement’s Al-Aqsa TV on Wednesday evening that a further nine women detainees would be freed shortly.

Under the deal, Israel is to free another 550 prisoners within two months, but details of who will be freed in the second group have not been finalised.

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