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Hamas: Israel not showing seriousness in forming new prisoner exchange deal

Feb. 17, 2017 9:44 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 19, 2017 6:18 P.M.)
(File)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Hamas movement said on Friday that Israeli authorities were making a serious effort to strike a new prisoner exchange deal to release Israelis held by Hamas and Palestinians imprisoned in Israel. 

Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qasim said that the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, had received Israeli offers through intermediaries last week, but added that what Israel is offering did not “meet even the minimum demands made by the resistance.” 

Qasim said that the “statements of Israeli leaders are just part of their lies directed at the families of the imprisoned Israeli soldiers to convince them they are putting in efforts to bring them back.” 

Hamas claims to hold the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were pronounced dead by Israel during the 2014 war in Gaza, though Hamas has never explicitly said whether the two Israeli soldiers were alive or dead.

Earlier this month, Hamas had reportedly rejected an offer by the Israeli government to release a Hamas official in Israeli custody in exchange for the release of one of two Israelis thought to be held alive in the Gaza Strip.

Avraham Mengistu, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent, has reportedly been held by Hamas since September 2015 when he accidentally wandered into Gaza. Hisham al-Sayed, a young Israeli-Bedouin man who has schizophrenia, was last seen when he crossed into the Palestinian territory in April 2015.

Hamas has repeatedly insisted that Israel must release all prisoners who were freed as part of the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal who have since been redetained before starting talks of a new prisoner swap deal.

According to Palestinian prisoners' rights group Addameer, some 6,500 Palestinians were held in Israeli custody as of January. 

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