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Hamas denies mediation over new prisoner swap with Israel

Palestinian detainees by Israeli soldiers [file photo]
Palestinian detainees by Israeli soldiers [file photo]

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement denied on Wednesday that there is any mediation going on with the Israeli occupation authorities to agree a new prisoner swap deal, Quds Press has reported.

“There is no mediation regarding the Israeli soldiers imprisoned by Al-Qassam Brigades,” insisted Hamas spokesman Hazim Qasim. There will be no new talks on the issue until all of the prisoners held by Israel, who were freed then rearrested when Sergeant Gilad Shalit was handed over, are released, he added.

Israel’s Ynet News reported on Tuesday that Qatar has attempted to mediate between Hamas and Israel regarding a new prisoner swap. The efforts failed because Israel refused to release the prisoners freed by the Shalit deal, suggesting instead that they be deported to Qatar.

The military wing of Hamas — the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades — announced in April last year that it has four Israeli soldiers being held captive in Gaza. Although full details were not provided at the time, their names and photographs were published. It is not known whether they are alive or dead, but it is believed that at least one of the men, Oron Shaul, is alive, as it was hinted that he fainted when he heard about the funeral of his father.

In October 2011, the Israelis released more than 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Hamas while on active duty in 2006.

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