Hamas will demand Gilboa jailbreakers' freedom in Israel prisoner swap talks

Hamas will demand Gilboa jailbreakers' freedom in Israel prisoner swap talks
The freedom of the six daring Palestinians who escaped Gilboa Prison will be among Hamas' demands, said Khaled Meshaal, Hamas' overseas political leader.
2 min read
21 September, 2021
Hamas' Khaled Meshaal spoke with the Gilboa relatives by telephone [Getty]

Hamas will demand the release of the six Gilboa Prison escapees' in prisoner-swap negotiations with Israel, according to the movement.

Hamas political bureau member Zaher Jabarin told The New Arab's Arabic service Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the group is still engaging with mediators despite Israeli hesitancy.

He suggested in the interview published Tuesday that Israel remains unwilling to pay the "necessary price" for the release of Israelis held by Hamas' armed branch, Al-Qassam Brigades, but that they will eventually agree to talks.

Jabarin said Israel now understands that it cannot pressure Hamas to release the Israel detainees via possible reconstruction efforts in Gaza - following the Israeli bombardment of the Palestinian enclave - or the crushing blockade on it.

He said the Palestinian detainees held by Israel will have to be freed for Hamas to release the Israeli captives.

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The six daring Gilboa Prison escapees will be part of this exchange, should Khaled Meshaal, Hamas' overseas political leader, get his way.

The six men broke out of the maximum-security facility in Israel's north two weeks ago, prompting celebrations across Palestine and embarrassment for Israel. All have since been recaptured.

Meshaal spoke with relatives of the Gilboa jailbreakers by telephone and told them they will be part of the deal with Israel, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported on Tuesday.

He claimed: "These prisoners and the rest of the imprisoned children of the national movement and their leaders will soon see freedom, God willing."

This will come "through an honourable exchange deal worthy of the Palestinian resistance [Hamas], which took the initiative and assumed this national and historic responsibility".

The senior Hamas leader also applauded the six Gilboa escapees, saying "they are doing the impossible with their mighty will, seeking freedom and salvation from the occupation's prisons".

The Gilboa relatives, who must now wait to see if the prisoner swap progresses, told Meshaal they are confident in Hamas and its leaders, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Among the four Israeli prisoners held by Hamas are two soldiers, captured during Israel's military campaign against Gaza in 2014.

Israel believes the soldiers have been killed, although Hamas will neither confirm nor deny this.