Bennett and Lapid reportedly rule out partial prisoner swap after Hamas releases footage of captive Israeli-Arab Hisham al-Sayed.
By World Israel News Staff
The Israeli government has declined an offer made by Hamas to conduct a limit prisoner exchange, in place of comprehensive deal, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the Lebanon-based, Syria-aligned Al Mayadeen channel reported that Hamas had recently proposed to return Hisham al-Sayed, a mentally ill Israeli Bedouin man who has been held captive in Gaza since he crossed into the coastal enclave 2015, in exchange for the release of sick terrorists jailed in Israeli prisons.
The message was conveyed to Israel via Egyptian intermediaries, who met with Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas claimed Monday that the condition of one of its two living Israeli captives is in sharp decline.
A day later, the terror group released video footage on Tuesday of al-Sayed in a hospital bed hooked up to an oxygen machine.
Israel condemned the release of the video, calling it a “heinous and desperate act”.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz called the release of the footage an act of “extortion.”
Sources cited by Yedioth said that both Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his successor, Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, have ruled out Hamas’ plan for a partial prisoner exchange.
The sources also claimed that the Israeli government views the release of Tuesday’s video as an desperate attempt by Hamas to reboot stalled prisoner exchange talks with Israel, and to shift responsibility for al-Sayed’s declining health to Israel.
Israel seeks the return of not only Hisham al-Sayed, but also the release of Avera Mengistu and the return of the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed during Operation Protective Edge in August 2014.
Mengistu, who, like al-Sayed has a history of mental illness, crossed into the Gaza Strip in 2014, and was taken captive by Hamas terrorists.
In August 2014, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, two IDF soldiers stationed on the border with Gaza during Operation Protective Shield, were killed during a Hamas attack. Their bodies were seized by Hamas terrorists and taken into the Gaza Strip, where they have been held for the past eight years.