Special report: Israel launches Gaza
GAZA, July 1 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian militants who
kidnapped an Israeli soldier demanded Israel on early Saturday to release 1,000
prisoners held in Israeli jails.
In a joint statement named "Military Statement Number
Two", the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades which is an armed wing of the
Palestinian ruling Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), the Popular Resistance
Committees (PRC) and the Islamic Army also demanded Israel end an ongoing
military ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.
The three groups claimed the abduction of the Israeli
soldier during a cross-border raid on an Israeli army post near the Gaza border
The three armed groups also reiterated a demand in a
previous statement -- "Military Statement Number One" -- for the release of all
Palestinian women and minors jailed by Israel in return for information on the
abducted 19-year-old Gilad Shalit.
But the statement did not say the militants would
release Shalit if Israel met their demands.
Israel has already rejected the militants' demand to
free imprisoned Palestinian women and minors.
Israeli troops continued a broad ground offensive in
Gaza on early Saturday in a bid to rescue Shalit.
It is the first major Israeli military ground
operation in the Gaza Strip since Israel pulled out soldiers and settlers from
it last summer after 38 years of occupation. Enditem