Israel demands ‘progress’ on captives for Hamas negotiations

Egypt has invited the parties to Cairo for long-term ceasefire talks.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

Israel has demanded that the issue of prisoners and missing persons held in Gaza be a key element of long-term ceasefire talks between Israel, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority, Kan News reported Wednesday.

After mediating a ceasefire agreement last week, Egypt has invited the parties to Cairo for the talks, which could begin as early as next week.

Israel has reportedly set two conditions for its participation: that talks with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority be held separately, and that progress in the reconstruction of Gaza will be conditional on progress on the issue of the captive Israelis in Gaza.

The four Israelis are Sgt. Oren Shaul, Lt. Hadar Goldin, Avera Mengistu, and Hisham al-Sayed.

Shaul and Goldin are believed to have been killed during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, and their bodies have since been held by Hamas.

Mengistu, who suffers from mental illness, entered Gaza in September 2014 and was captured by Hamas.

Al-Sayed, an Israeli Arab who also suffers from mental illness, was captured by Hamas after entering Gaza in 2015.

Upon hearing news of last week’s ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Simcha Goldin, whose son is among the missing, said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “should stop playing with the feelings of the families and bring the soldiers back.”

His wife Leah Goldin had demanded that there be no ceasefire until her son’s body is returned home.

“It’s not Hamas refusing to return my boy; it’s the Israeli and the other international entities that simply do not request it,” she told i24 News last week.