Saudi royal offers bounty on Israeli soldiers

Palestinians celebrate the release of prisoners at the main square in Gaza City on Oct. 18, 2011. Hamas agreed to release Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, many of them serving life sentences for deadly attacks on Israelis. AP Photo/Majed Hamdan

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - A member of Saudi Arabia's royal family increased to $1 million a reward offered by a Saudi cleric to anyone who captures an Israeli soldier to swap him for Palestinian prisoners.

Prince Khaled bin Talal, brother of billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, told the kingdom's al-Daleel TV station by telephone Saturday that he was raising a previous offer made by Sheik Awadh al-Qarani, a prominent Saudi cleric who promised $100,000 for capturing an Israeli soldier.

"I tell Sheik al-Qarani that I support you and I will pay $900,000 to make it one million dollars to capture an Israeli soldier to release other prisoners," said a voice identified as Prince Khaled, who holds no official position in the government.

The Saudi offers follow in the wake of the release of Israeli soldier Sgt. Gilad Schalit, who was held by Hamas in Gaza for more than five years. Israel has agreed to free over 1,000 prisoners in exchange.

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Prince Khaled said he made the offer in response to what he said were Israeli threats against Qarani's life. He did not provide any further details.

In Israel, extremists have offered two rewards of $100,000 to anyone who kills a Palestinian released in the Schalit deal if the Palestinian killed Israelis.

Extremist settler activist Baruch Marzel said he was familiar with the bounties and that there were a number of bereaved Israeli families who were looking to "settle the score" with the killers.

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