Hamas Denies Negotiations on Return of Captive Israelis

Militant group says it hold two Israeli civilians and two soldiers, who Israel had declared killed in action during Gaza war.

Hamas militant with images of Lt. Hadar Goldin, St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayyad.
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Hamas denied on Friday that negotiations were taking place with Israel over the return of Israelis held in Gaza.

A spokesman for Iz al-Din al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas, said in a televised address that the group was holding Avera Mengistu and a Bedouin-Israeli whose name was not released for publication, as well as two Israeli soldiers, Lt. Hadar Goldin and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul. Israel had previously declared that Goldin and Shaul were killed during the war in Gaza in 2014.

"Netanyahu is lying to his people and casts sand in the eyes of the soldiers' families," the spokesman said. "We clearly state that there are no negotiations [with Israel] over the four prisoners and there are no contacts."

"Israel must pay to receive information before and after the negotiations," he added.

The televised footage showed pictures of the four Israelis.

Goldin and Oron were pronounced dead during the 2014 Gaza war, though their bodies have never been recovered. Mengistu, a resident of the coastal city of Ashkelon, entered Gaza of his own volition in September, 2014. The Bedouin-Israeli citizen, who Israel says is mentally unstable, crossed over into Gaza in April, 2015.