Hamas Sees Improved Chances for Prisoner Swap Deal With Israel, Lebanese Report Says

Jack Khoury
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Hamas Chief Yahya Sinwar in Gaza, 2019.
Hamas Chief Yahya Sinwar in Gaza, 2019.Credit: MOHAMMED SALEM / Reuters
Jack Khoury

Hamas sources said that the "chances for progress have increased" in prisoner exchange talks with Israel, an article published Thursday in Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper reported. The potential deal would be implemented in two stages and talks are being mediated by Egypt, the source told the newspaper.

The sources were quoted as saying that Cairo sees that Israel is willing to move ahead in talks, and that Egypt made a goodwill gesture by releasing four Gazan doctors who were detained in the country. The sources also said that according to their assessments, finalizing the deal is dependent in part on the makeup of Israel's new cabinet.

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Last week, Al-Akhbar, which is aligned with Hezbollah, reported that Hamas has given Israel a list of 250 Hamas prisoners held by Israel who are ill, elderly, female or minors. Hamas is demanding that these prisoners be freed in exchange for information on Israelis held in Gaza: the civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayad, and the bodies of the soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

Musa Dudin, the Hamas official responsible for members of the organization detained by Israel, said last week that Hamas presented the prisoner exchange to Israel via mediators, but that Israel did not seem willing to accept the proposal. Dudin added that the current initiative does not come at the price of the terms Hamas presented for a complete prisoner exchange, which would see the release of detained Gazans for the Israeli civilians and the remains of the soldiers.  

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