Deliberations for a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas

Head of Hamas movement in Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar announced an initiative for a prisoner swap deal unfolding new proposals. The Israeli security establishment showed interest over the matter. Political sources in Tel Aviv said that the two parties are suggesting various scenarios to test the deal among their public, noting there were indications of some progress over an agreement.

The Israeli Defense Minister, Naftali Bennett, linked providing aid to Gaza to combat coronavirus with recovering soldiers held by Hamas. Sinwar responded by saying the movement is willing to make partial concessions on the issue of the two Israeli soldiers in its custody, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul. He said that Hamas is ready for the humanitarian initiative, in exchange for Israel’s approval to release the elderly, sick, and female Palestinian prisoners.

The official also noted that the deal must include supplying the enclave’s needs to combat the spread of coronavirus. Bennett warned that Israel will not provide aid unless the Palestinians made concessions over the deal, while Sinwar threatened that if ventilators are not brought into Gaza, they’ll take them by force from Israel and stop the breathing of 6 million Israeli settlers. He indicated that Hamas’ armed wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, is seriously concerned about the spread of the virus inside the Israeli prisons.

Sinwar told al-Aqsa tv that Hamas informed mediators they can’t launch new negotiations for a prisoner exchange deal if Israel doesn’t release the prisoners of the Shalit deal in 2011 who were arrested again in the West Bank. For his part, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum confirmed that the “humanitarian” initiative suggested by Sinwar reflects the flexibility of the movement in managing the prisoners’ issue, and tests Israel’s seriousness in this matter.

SOURCE: Asharq Al-Awsat