In an unprecedented move, Abdullah Barghouti, who is currently being held in an Israeli jail, issued the call on Al-Ra’i Radio, a radio station affiliated with Hamas which broadcasts from the Gaza Strip.
Barghouti, who was once one of Hamas’ chief bomb-makers, is currently serving 67 life sentences for his involvement in the deaths of 66 Israelis.
Barghouti was first arrested by Palestinian Authority forces in late 2001 for his alleged involvement in the infamous Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing that year, which left 15 people dead.
He was released in January 2002 after a deterioration of Israel-PA relations, and immediately set about planning and building weapons for suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, according to NRG. Those attacks included a suicide bombing in Tel-Aviv on the number 4 bus line, and other attacks around the country.
In March 2003 he was arrested by Israel’s Shin Bet security services.
Barghouti’s call for the kidnap of Israeli soldiers comes as reports emerged of an understanding being hammered out between Hamas and Israel regarding building in the Gaza Strip and maintaining quiet between the two sides.
According to the report, Barghouti is seeking to place Hamas’ leadership in an uncomfortable position over the reports, and wants to to force the matter of Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel.
On the radio show, Barghouti urged the leadership of Hamas to be patient and not to rush into a deal with Israel. He said, “do not rush to sign a deal, we are patient and resilient as you have entrusted us to be.”
In response to Barghouti, Abu Obaida, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza said, “the freedom of the prisoners is our duty and commitment, and your jailers will be annihilated.”