GAZA, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- Deposed Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haneya on Sunday said a prisoner exchange deal between his Islamic movement and Israel would be reached soon.
"We are regarding the imminent swap as a prelude to the hope and the national joy that are beyond political gains," Haneya said in a televised speech on the first anniversary of Israel's offensive on the Gaza Strip.
Palestinians hold portraits of their jailed relatives during a protest calling for the release of their relatives from Israeli prisons, at the Red Cross office in Gaza City, on Dec. 28, 2009.(Xinhua/Mahmud Nassar)
Haneya hinted out the goal of the swap, in which Hamas will free the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, is to secure the release "of prisoners who have been waiting to be freed from Israeli jails for long years."
A delegation from Hamas has left the Gaza Strip on Sunday to Egypt, en route to Syria to meet exiled Hamas leaders to pen a response to an Israeli offer to exchange the prisoners, a Hamas spokesman told Xinhua earlier Sunday.
The Israeli war on Gaza, started a year ago and ended on January 18, has killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and displaced thousands of families.
In his address, Haneya has warned Israel against launching any military operation in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in the future, stressing that Israel failed to destroy the militant groups.
A Palestinian woman holds the portrait of her jailed relative during a protest calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons, at the Red Cross office in Gaza City, on Dec. 28, 2009.(Xinhua/Mahmud Nassar)
Israel said the offensive aimed at stopping Hamas from firing rockets into its southern towns. Hamas maintained an undeclared ceasefire with Israel after the fighting stopped but Israel said the Islamic movement had test-fired at least two long-range, Iranian-developed missiles to the sea.
Haneya also said his government would help any organization looking to carry out rebuilding projects in the Gaza Strip, calling on Egypt to stop building an underground steel wall on its borders with Gaza "since Gaza doesn't pose a threat to Egypt's security and stability."
Egypt and Israel have sealed off their borders with Gaza when Hamas took over the territory after it routed security forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The closure blocked the reconstruction of thousands of houses, public and government-run institutions.
Haneya also called on Abbas's Fatah party to reconcile with the Islamic movement on "peaceful rotation of power, mutual respect and a political program that would at least unify the people and protect the rights and principles."
Hamas has rejected an Egyptian proposal for reconciliation with Fatah though Abbas's movement had accepted it. Hamas wants Egypt to consider a series of reservations on the offer.