The Islamic Hamas Movement said that the Israeli captives in the Gaza Strip will only be exchanged for the release of Palestinians prisoners.
Hamas, which has been ruling the Gaza Strip, home for more than 2 million Palestinians, since 2007, said that Israel “must understand that a prisoners’ swap deal is the only way that can bring its captive soldiers back”, reports Xinhua news agency.
In 2011, Egypt brokered a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas, in which Israel released more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for the release of soldier Gilad Shalit.
This was the first and only prisoners’ swap deal between Israel and Hamas in 10 years.
“The issue of releasing Palestinian prisoners stands on top of the priorities of the Palestinian factions, including Hamas,” the Movement said in a statement issued on Monday, markingthe 10th anniversary of the swap deal.
In 2017, Hamas militants said that they hold four Israeli captives in the Gaza Strip, without giving any detail about them.
“We will not get rest until the prisoners are freed. We are close to reaching a new swap deal after compelling the Israeli government to submit to the demands of the Palestinian factions because Israel has no choice but to meet our demands,” it added.
Two weeks ago, a high-ranking Hamas delegation headed by the movement’s politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh held a series of talks with senior Egyptian security intelligence officials on the situation in Gaza and a possible swap deal with Israel.
According to official Palestinian figures, Israel is holding more than 4,000 Palestinian prisoners in 23 jails and detention camps.