Report: Germany brokering swap of jailed Hamas terrorists for Israeli civilians and soldiers’ remains

Germany is brokering a deal to swap the remains of two IDF soldiers and two Israeli citizens held captive in Gaza for the release of Hamas terrorists.

By: World Israel News Staff

German is “engaged” in indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas over a possible exchange deal which would result in the release of two mentally ill Israelis who wandered into Gaza and the remains of two IDF soldiers, according to Al-Hayat, a pan-Arab daily.

The remains and the civilian captives would be exchanged for the release of Hamas terrorists serving time in Israeli jails.

IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul were killed in action during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. The EU has said that Hamas violates human rights laws by holding their remains.

Two Israeli civilians who are said to be mentally ill — Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed — entered Gaza of their own volition in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

According to sources who spoke with Al-Hayat, German mediator Ernst Orlau, who was involved in the 2011 Shalit deal,  is involved in the present negotiations.

Israel released 1,027 Hamas terrorists in exchange for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Some returned to terrorism.

German envoys visited Gaza several times in complete secrecy, and held meetings with a number of Hamas leaders who were permitted to deal with Israel through a third party.

The source said that the contacts and meetings take place on two levels, first through Germany’s diplomatic representation in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and second through a new German mediator assigned this task, working from Berlin.

The sources did not give any details or clarifications about the progress in the negotiations.

Israel and Egypt authorized Germany’s mediation, which includes facilitating understandings on the details of the deal and the numbers of prisoners.

Egypt’s role is to “carry out” the deal and supervise the handover and delivery of the captives, as was the case in the Shalit agreement.

Israel demands that the fate of the soldiers be known before the start of negotiations, while Hamas insists that no information be given about them before the release of 54 prisoners who were released by Israel during the Shalit deal and re-arrested over the past four years.

Israel and Germany in diplomatic crisis

The sources quoted by Al-Hayat also noted that there was a diplomatic crisis between Germany and Israel due to an incident at a checkpoint.

The IDF insisted on inspecting a German diplomatic vehicle at Erez Crossing on its way from Gaza to the city of Ramallah about a month ago.

The diplomats, who were held at the checkpoint for about three hours, were told that the inspection was standard protocol for all diplomatic missions after a French diplomat who smuggled weapons through the checkpoint a few months ago was arrested.

The Germans insisted on refusing the inspection and decided to return to Gaza.

The German foreign ministry attempted to put pressure on the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which instructed the security services to allow them to leave the following day without inspection.

Germany decided not to allow its diplomats to go to Gaza since the incident or to submit to inspection procedures. The decision’s aim was to put pressure on Israel.

According to Al-Hayat, Israel “needs” German negotiators in Gaza to mediate exchange deal negotiations.

However, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has said in the past that Israel must not repeat the “mistake” of the Shalit deal by releasing terrorists, many of whom become recidivists, for Israeli captives.