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Could there be another Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swap?

Could there be another Israeli-Palestinian prisoner swap?
3 min read
21 October, 2015
Analysis: Four years on from the "Shalit deal" which saw 1,027 Palestinian prisoners released in exchange for a captured Israeli soldier, could a new deal help defuse fresh tensions?
Palestinians celebrated the release of thousands of prisoners in the 2011 Shalit deal [Getty]
Hamas has recently announced that it was working on "the liberation of all Palestinian prisoners", which some have interpreted as a reference to a new prisoner swap deal.

During Israel's last military assault on the Gaza Strip in 2014, Tel Aviv declared that Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul and Lieutenant Hadar Goldin were killed, and their bodies remained "missing" in Gaza.

The Qassam Brigades announced on 20 June 2014 that Shaul's corpse was in their custody and released his military ID by means of proof.

The fate of Goldin remains unknown, though they are both thought to be dead.

The recent statement from Hamas came on the fourth anniversary of the "Shalit deal", in which Israel exchange 1,027 Palestinian prisoners for Corporal Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who had been in their custody for a year.

"It is currently early to talk about any new deal or exchange between the Palestinian resistance and the Israeli occupation," Hamas leader Mushir al-Masri told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

"Especially in the absence of the occupation's commitment to release prisoners from the Shalit deal, who were rearrested last year."
     The fulfillment of the Shalit deal formed a milestone in the history of the resistance
- Mushir al-Masri, Hamas

In the years following the Shalit deal, many of those released were rearrested.

"The fulfillment of the Shalit deal formed a milestone in the history of the resistance, as it was able to break the the conditions set by the occupation... and led to the release of hundreds of prisoners," Masri said.
The Hamas leader said that "the former deal will form the gateway to a series of exchanges for the liberation of prisoners, and emptying Israeli jails".

There were some reports that discussions of a prisoner exchange were included in the Hamas-Israel truce talks in August that ultimately came to a halt.

The movement "will continue to work on a permanent basis in order to force the Israeli occupation to release about 6,000 Palestinian prisoners, as it did in the fulfillment in the [Shalit] deal, and will use all ways and means available in order to fulfill their obligations towards the case of prisoners".

Ibrahim al-Madhoun, director of The Future research centre in Gaza, told al-Araby that Tel Aviv did not want ordinary Israelis to know their government could be placed under pressure by Hamas. "The Israeli occupation is pursuing a procrastination technique," he said.

"Hamas will work on the case through its commitment to silence and not to publish any details regarding the soldiers they have as prisoner, and will continue to pressure and exploit political changes."

There is much confusion surrounding the fate of the two Israeli soldiers who went missing during the war.

In the case of Gilad Shalit, proof of life was issued in the early months of his captivity, in the form a photo. With Shaul and Goldin, however, no such evidence has been issued, leading many to assume that they were killed in the war.

Israel has declared the pair dead.

However, in March, Israel reportedly approached European mediators with channels to Hamas, to negotiate over the release of their bodies.

And during Gaza's escalating electricity crisis, Israeli business owners reportedly offered to provide the besieged Strip with electricity - in return for the soldiers' bodies.

The corpses of Israeli and Palestinians are frequently used as bargaining chips. In 2008, Israel released four prominent Hizballah prisoners in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers.