A German mediator’s meetings with Hamas officials to secure the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit have not yielded any new progress, an Arabic newspaper reported.

The meetings came earlier this month in Gaza, the London-based Al Hayat reported Sunday, April 18. The mediator also met with senior officials in Israel and Egypt.

The German mediator reportedly raised anew the idea of a prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel, the newspaper reported. Mediated talks between Israel and Hamas in Gaza for Shalit’s release broke down several months ago.

Meanwhile, the armed wing of Hamas on Saturday threatened to kidnap Israelis for use as bargaining chips in addition to Shalit to free Palestinians in Israeli jails.

The statement from the Izz-as-Din al-Qassam Brigades was faxed Saturday to reporters, Haaretz reported Sunday.

Brigades spokesman Abu Obeidah also said that a prisoner swap deal “is not the last and only hope for Hamas to release the prisoners. The hope is with the men of resistance who will continue their struggle until releasing all the prisoners.”

The letter came on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day; Hamas and Fatah staged protests together this year. It also came less than a week after Israel warned its citizens to leave Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula due to an imminent kidnapping threat.

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