Report: Israel Approached Hamas to Discuss Returning Bodies of Missing Soldiers

Hamas official tells Turkish news agency Israel and Hamas exchanged messages through a European mediator; Hamas demands Israel releases some 70 of its men.

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Givati Reconnaissance Battalion soldiers during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.Credit: Shay Wagner, IDF Spokesperson's Unit

Israel reportedly approached Hamas through a European mediator several weeks ago to discuss returning the bodies of two soldiers killed during this summer’s war in Gaza, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.  

According to a senior Hamas official who was quoted in Turkish news agency Anadolu, Hamas responded that it would only negotiate the matter once Israel releases the Hamas members who were freed in 2011 but rearrested in 2014.

Last week, senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk echoed this position, saying that the organization does not rule out negotiations to return the soldiers' bodies, but on condition that some 70 Hamas prisoners – who were freed in the Gilad Shalit deal and incarcerated after the kidnapping of three Jewish teens – are released.  

Meanwhile, a large rally of Hamas' military wing is scheduled to take place on Wednesday evening. This show of power is meant to portray the military wing as a force that stood up to Israel and has the capacity to face it in any future conflict.