Potential breakthrough may see return of Israeli hostages held by Hamas

The possibility of returning Israeli captives held by Hamas could explain Israel’s lack of response to Monday’s rocket attack.

By Tobias Siegal, World Israel News

A potential breakthrough in recent negotiations with Hamas may see the transfer of Qatari funds into Gaza and the release of Israeli hostages being held by the Gaza-based terror group.

On Tuesday, a source close to Hamas cited by Israeli media said that Qatari aid money, intended for some 100,000 families in Gaza, will be transferred in the coming days via the United Nations.

Moreover, the agreed compromise may include the release of one or more Israelis held by Hamas in Gaza, according to N12.

This possibility could explain Israel’s lack of response to Monday’s rocket attack from Gaza, reportedly perpetrated by Islamic Jihad members who were later arrested by Hamas.

Hamas does not seem to be interested in an escalation. Israel is not interested in one either. And while Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz are very much aware of the public criticism they may face, the potential value of reaching a breakthrough on the issue of Israeli captives exceeds the dangerous implications of Israel’s failed response.

Amid these developments, Egyptian Intelligence Minister Abbas Kamel arrived in Israel on Wednesday and met with Bennett and Gantz.

While touring southern Israel on Tuesday, Gantz said that Israel’s “only interest in Gaza is maintaining peace and returning our boys home,” possibly as a reference to the potential breakthrough.

IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin went missing during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza and were later confirmed to be dead. Their bodies were never returned.

Two Israeli citizens are also believed to be held by Hamas: Avera Mengistu, a disabled resident of Ashkelon who crossed the border into the Gaza Strip on September 7, 2014 and was not seen since, and Hisham al-Sayyed, a young Bedouin suffering from schizophrenia who served in the IDF for several months before being discharged and crossed the border into Gaza in April 2015.