(Yona Schnitzer/TPS) Hamas is prepared to negotiate a prisoner swap with Israel through a third party, the head of its political wing, Ismail Haniyeh, said this week in a speech given to mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day.
“We in Hamas are ready to start negotiations to achieve a deal through a third-party mediator,” Haniyeh said. “The day will come when the occupation will pay the price and release our prisoners,” he added.
Hamas is currently holding the remains of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in the 2014 Gaza War, as well as two civilians, Avraham Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who are believed to be alive in Gaza after entering the strip.
Meanwhile, the London-based Al-Hayat Arabic news site reported that Hamas’ leadership has rejected a deal presented by Israel, by which Hamas would cease the March of Return demonstrations on the Gaza border, and in return Israel would gradually lift the siege on the Gaza Strip. According to the reports, Hamas rejected the offer on the grounds that any deal with Israel must come with a prerequisite that the 60 prisoners who were released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011 and were then arrested again by Israel in June 2014, during the IDF’s attempts to locate the killers of three slain yeshiva students, be released.