The exiled leader of the militant Hamas group is threatening to capture more Israeli soldiers in order to win the release of Palestinian prisoners.

In a speech in Damascus, Syria, Khaled Mashaal congratulated the Palestinian people on Israel's release Friday of 19 female prisoners in return for a video of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit.

Mashaal promised to work for the release of thousands of Palestinians held by Israel.

He said those who were able to capture Schalit and hold him safely for more than three years are capable of capturing "Schalit and Schalit and Schalit until there is not even one prisoner in the enemy's jails."