Hamas 'delivers 250 names' of Palestinian prisoners it wants Israel to release: report

Hamas 'delivers 250 names' of Palestinian prisoners it wants Israel to release: report
2 min read
14 April, 2020
Israel now has a list of 250 Palestinian women, children and elderly prisoners Hamas wants released from Israeli jails as a preliminary step negotiations, Haaretz reported.
Both Israelis and Palestinians fear a coronavirus outbreak in prisons. [Anadolu Agency]
Hamas "delivered Israel" a list of 250 Palestinian prisoners it seeks to release from Israeli jails, Israeli news outlet Haaretz reported Tuesday, citing a Lebanese report.

In its report, the Lebanon daily Al-Akhbar cited Hamas officials saying the group had finalised a list of 250 Palestinian detainees it wants released. 

The Hamas' list includes women and children, as well as elderly prisoners, al-Akhbar reported.

However, the Palestinian group reportedly denied making a headway in the potential prisoner swap deal with Israel.

Indirect negotiations started earlier this month after Hamas' leader in Gaza implicitly expressed the group's willingness to reach a deal with Israel that would release vulnurable Palestinian prisoners in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

In return, Hamas has proposed to reveal information on the bodies of two soldiers, in addition to giving intel on two captive Israelis it alleges are soldiers – while Israel has claimed them to be civilians.

Hamas reportedly holds Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, and the remains of the bodies of Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul – killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2014.

Handing over the list – through mediators including Egyptians and Russians – would comprise the first step of negotiations, the report cited Hamas as saying.

Quoting Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem, Haaretz reported the second stage of the potential deal would demand the release of 55 Palestinian security prisoners, who were released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal but later re-jailed.

According to Tuesday's report, mediators stepped up efforts to push negotiations forward, but were shut down by Hamas – the Palestinian political faction that governs the Gaza Strip.

Hamas said it will not agree to negotiations that would see the release of Israeli soldiers in return, according to Al-Akhbar.

Musa Dodin, the head of prisoner affairs at the Hamas political bureau, has reportedly denied that a deal is imminent.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated the willingness to hold immediate, indirect talks on the matter, which was met with scepticism from Hamas over concerns Israel will fail to follow through.

There have been several attempts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian prisoner exchange deal in recent years, though  have succeeded.

Read more: Israel enlists Egyptian mediators to progress Hamas prisoner swap deal

Israel holds around 5,700 Palestinian prisoners, 44 women and 200 children. 

As of Tuesday, Israel recorded 11,868 coronavirus infections, resulting in 117 confirmed deaths.

While infections among Palestinians are relatively low, both Israel and the Palestinians fear the consequences of prisoners contracting coronavirus.

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