Hamas Gave Israel Names of Prisoners It Wants Released in Deal, Report Says

Egyptian mediators step up efforts to promote negotiations, but a Hamas source says Israel's response remains 'tepid' ■ Hamas spokesperson says humanitarian aid shouldn't depend on exchanging information

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Israel's Ofer Prison, where Palestinian prisoners are held, 2019.
Israel's Ofer Prison, where Palestinian prisoners are held, 2019. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Hamas delivered Israel a list of 250 Palestinian prisoners it seeks to release from Israeli jails, as indirect negotiations for a prisoner exchange deal continue, Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar reported on Tuesday.

The list includes old and sick prisoners, as well as mionrs and women. According to some reports, they would be released in exchange for information on Israeli citizens held in the Gaza Strip, as the first stage of the proposed deal.

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Hamas is said to hold Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, and the remains of the bodies of Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed during the Israeli army's opertaion in Gaza in 2014.

According to Tuesday's report, Egyptian mediators stepped up efforts to promote negotiations, but a Hamas official in Gaza was quoted as saying Israel’s response remains "tepid."

Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem denied in an interview to Nazareth Radio that the organization seeks to link humanitarian aid, and specifically the delivery of ventilators to hospitals in the Strip as part of the organization's coronavirus response, to the deal currently being negotiated.

Qassem said there is no relation between the two issues, adding that Israel, as well as the international community, are responsible for Gaza’s health system.

Qassem added that Hamas stands by the proposal laid out by the organization’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, that old and sick prisoners would be release by Israel in the first stage of the deal.

He stressed that now "the ball is in Israel’s court."

In the second stage of the deal, according to Qassem, his organization would demand to release the Palestinian security prisoners who had been released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal but later jailed again, in a future prisoner swap.    

Fifty-five Palestinian prisoners who were among those released in exchange for Shalit were rearrested in 2014 following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens.

On Sunday, Haaretz cited Palestinian sources as saying that under the proposed agreement, Israel would send humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, including ventilators, as the Hamas-controlled enclave braces for a potentially disastrous outbreak of the coronavirus.

Sources in Gaza said that in a proposed first stage of the deal, Hamas would give Israel information on the two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two soldiers held in Gaza, via Egyptian and Russian mediators. This would be followed by a second stage of negotiations for the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

Israeli officials denied a delivery of ventilators was being negotiated.

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