Hamas offers two new scenarios for prisoner swap deal

Hamas is apparently attempting to make political capital out of the Gilboa prison break by linking them to a potential exchange deal.

By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News. 

Hamas has put forward two new proposals for a prisoner swap deal in exchange for two Israeli civilians, and the remains of two Israeli soldiers. The six prisoners who recently escaped Gilboa prison are included in the demands.

Zaher Jabarin, a senior Hamas official in charge of prisoners affairs, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on Tuesday that the terror group has reached out through Egyptian mediators, but that Israel is unwilling to meet the “necessary price” for the return of its citizens.

According to Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar, that price includes the freedom of all the prisoners released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap who were subsequently re-detained – a group which includes convicted murderers – in addition to all Palestinian women and children in Israeli prisons and the six prisoners who recently escaped Gilboa jail.

Hamas has put two scenarios to Israel via Egyptian moderators. The first is a straight exchange of the Palestinian prisoners for the remains of two IDF soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, which have been held since 2014, and two mentally challenged civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayed, who entered Gaza voluntarily in 2014 and 2015 respectively and are believed to be held by the group.

The second scenario involves a two-stage process — the release of women, children, and some of the prisoners released in the Shalit deal in exchange for information on the captives, followed by the release of the captives in exchange for thousands more prisoners.

Jabarin told the Qatari-owned Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Hamas will not be pressured into releasing the captives in exchange for reconstruction efforts in Gaza and that Israel must agree to prisoner swap demands if it wants Hamas to release the captives.

Hamas is apparently attempting to make political capital out of the Gilboa prison break by linking them to a potential exchange deal.

Former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who is now part of the group’s foreign leadership, recently told the families of the Gilboa prisoners, “These prisoners and the rest of the imprisoned children of the national movement and their leaders will soon see freedom, God willing,” according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Their freedom will come, he added, “through an honorable exchange deal worthy of the Palestinian resistance [Hamas], which took the initiative and assumed this national and historic responsibility.”

Israeli sources have said in recent days that there has been no breakthrough with Hamas to secure the Israeli captives as Jerusalem opposes any deal which involves the release of Palestinian prisoners with blood on their hands.