Israel 'attacked Gaza site' holding captured soldiers in 2014, Hamas says

Israel 'attacked Gaza site' holding captured soldiers in 2014, Hamas says
The Israeli army attacked a military place belonging to al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Hamas movement, where one of the Israeli captured soldiers was held inside it during the Gaza-Israel conflict in 2014.
3 min read
01 August, 2022
Hamas says the Israeli army attacked a Gaza-based facility holding captured soldiers in 2014 [Getty-file photo]

Israel attacked a Hamas-linked military facility in 2014, where an Israeli soldier captured by the movement was being held, the group said on Sunday.

Abu Obeida, the spokesman of Al-Qassam Brigades - Hamas' armed faction - said the Israeli strike killed one fighter and wounded three others, who were guarding the site.

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Al-Qassam Brigades announced in 2016, for the first time, that it held four Israeli soldiers, two of them captured during the 2014 Hamas-Israel conflict, without specifying their fates.

The Israeli army launched its 51-day assault on the besieged Gaza enclave in July 2014, killing at least 2,251 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and wounding more than 6,000 others. 

Israel believes that Hamas holds the remains of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, two soldiers killed in the Gaza offensive, and two others - Avera Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayed - which it believes are still alive.

Hamas has sought to trade the prisoners in exchange for easing the blockade on Gaza which Israel launched in 2007 after Hamas took over the enclave.

The siege has led to shortages of essential medical and building supplies, reaping further misery on Gaza's civilian population.

Israel maintains it will not lift the blockade until the prisoners are freed and Gaza Strip is demilitarised.

Speaking to The New Arab, Gaza-based political experts believe that Al-Qassam issued its controversial and sudden announcement to make a breakthrough in stalled negotiations on the prisoners' issue. 

"Contrary to what Israel claims, the Palestinian resistance said its last word and confirmed that two Israeli captured soldiers, or at least one of them, is still alive," Hussam al-Dajani, a Gaza-based analyst, told The New Arab

"Based on the time of the announcement, it seems that the Israeli government is still insisting on ignoring the file of prisoners swap with the Palestinians... and this pushed the armed resistance to escalate the Israeli popular pressure in the face of their government." 

Al-Dajani expects another round of indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel soon, which comes as Prime Minister Yair Lapid seeks to win Israeli votes during an upcoming election

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Gaza-based political analyst Zulfaqqar Soergo told The New Arab: "Al-Qassam used a smart method to revive the file of prisoners' swap through mentioning the existence of the Israeli captives without providing their fate at the moment. 

"The Israeli government does not have any other choices... it will submit to the requirements of the resistance and will accept the completion of this file as soon as possible, especially in light of the growing Israeli popular pressure to know the fate of the soldiers trapped in Gaza."

Israeli media widely covered the Hamas announcement, while leading intelligence official Tamir Hayman rejected Hamas' claim as "evil cynicism".

Israel goes to the polls on 1 November, after the Knesset was dissolved in June.