Hamas rules out prisoner swap with Israel

Hamas rules out prisoner swap with Israel
Hamas says Israeli forces need to free all those re-arrested in the exchange deals, before entering any new prisoner swap discussions.
2 min read
04 July, 2016
Hamas have ruled out a prisoner swap for now [AFP]
The leadership of Hamas have ruled out negotiations with Israel, since the recent war in Gaza two years ago.  

"The conditions are not encouraging to complete a deal," said Salah Barawil, a lead of Hamas, citing the re-arrest of prisoners released in the Shalit deal, and the failure of Egyptian negotiators.

Hamas reiterated that Israeli forces should free all those re-arrested in the exchange deals, before entering into talks concerning any new prisoner swap.  

The statement follows recent Israeli reports that Hamas and Israel are engaging in behind-the-scenes talks.  

Israeli soldiers, dead or alive, have in the past proven to be valuable bargaining chips.

The bodies of two soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, are believed to be held by Hamas, but their fate has not been clarified.

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

Hamas has recently continually referenced the Shalit deal where Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was exchanged by Hamas in return for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

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.