Gaza: A senior Hamas official has called on Palestinian militants to kidnap Israeli soldiers in order to exchange them for Palestinians captured by Israel. Izzat al-Rishq's statement posted on his Facebook page repeated the call by Hamas' Prime Minister Ismail Haniya in Gaza.

It came as Palestinians on Tuesday marked the Prisoners' Day in solidarity with Palestinians held in Israeli jails. Al-Rishq said in his post that, “Releasing Palestinians captured by Israel was as important for Hamas as the liberation of the occupied Palestinian territories.”

Over 7,000 Palestinians are believed to be held in Israeli jails over armed attacks on Israeli troops and civilians.

Most of them are members of Hamas and its rival faction Fatah, ruling the West Bank. On Tuesday, more than 1,600 jailed Palestinians declared an open-ended hunger strike protesting their arrest and the conditions in which they were being held, local media reported.

Another 2,300 prisoners said they would not eat for one day.

Last October, Hamas released its most high-profile Israeli prisoner, soldier Gilad Shalit, who was abducted by Palestinian militants in 2006, in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinians captured by Israel.