Hamas Says It Rejected Israeli Offer of Prisoner Swap

'What Israel offered isn't near the minimum of our demands,' Hamas tells Al-Jazeera. At least two Israelis are held in Gaza, while Israel holds the brother of a senior Hamas operative.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Israelis protest for Avera Mengistu outside Prime Minister's Residence.
Israelis protest for Avera Mengistu outside Prime Minister's Residence.Credit: Emil Salman
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Hamas' military wing has rejected an Israeli offer of a prisoner swap, the group told Al Jazeera on Wednesday. "What Israel offered isn't near the minimum of our demands," Iz al-Din al-Qassam was reported as saying.

According to the report, the offer had been made through mediators. No other details were offered.

Earlier this week Israel Radio reported that Hamas had rejected an Israeli proposal to swap the missing Israelis now in Gaza, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, with a Hamas member with mental problems incarcerated in Israel. Hamas, however, said it would not enter a deal involving the exchange of one or two people, but demands "a whole deal or nothing."

The source told Israel Radio that Hamas suggested Egypt broker the deal.

Last week Haaretz reported that Israel has been holding a Hamas member from the Gaza Strip for two months. The man, whose family claims he has mental problems, is a brother of one of the Hamas military leaders in the Strip. The two Israelis missing in Gaza are also believed to be mentally ill.

To date, Hamas has declined to enter into discussions about a prisoner swap on humanitarian grounds – returning the two missing Israelis and two bodies of Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed during the Gaza war in mid-2014. A third missing Israeli, Juma Abu Ghanima, is believed to have crossed over into Gaza but it is not clear if he is being held by Hamas.

Hamas has made clear that before advancing to any deal, Israel has to once again free the prisoners it had previously released as part of the Gilad Shalit deal, but later rearrested. The "Shalit prisoners," most of whom hail from East Jerusalem and the West Bank, had their sentences reinstated after three Israeli teenagers were murdered in 2014.

The reported progress in negotiations has apparently exacerbated tensions in Israeli prisons between Hamas prisoners and the Prison Service. Hamas prisoners in southern Israel were collectively punished for two attacks on wardens, which resulted in mild injuries.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


The Orion nebula, photographed in 2009 by the Spitzer Telescope.

What if the Big Bang Never Actually Happened?

Relatives mourn during the funeral of four teenage Palestinians from the Nijm family killed by an errant rocket in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip, August 7.

Why Palestinian Islamic Jihad Rockets Kill So Many Palestinians

בן גוריון

'Strangers in My House': Letters Expelled Palestinian Sent Ben-Gurion in 1948, Revealed


AIPAC vs. American Jews: The Toxic Victories of the 'pro-Israel' Lobby

Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic speaks during a press conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia in May.

‘This Is Crazy’: Israeli Embassy Memo Stirs Political Storm in the Balkans

Hamas militants take part in a military parade in Gaza.

Israel Rewards Hamas for Its Restraint During Gaza Op