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Hamas denies prisoner swap dialogue with Israel

June 28, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Members of the Hamas military wing, Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades on 26 March 2017 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

A senior Hamas source has denied the existence of any direct or indirect dialogue with Israel about a possible prisoner swap. The source spoke to Quds Press on condition of anonymity. He insisted that “rumours” about indirect negotiations are baseless.

“Hamas’s stance is clear,” he explained. “We will not start any talk about a prisoner swap until the Israeli occupation authorities free the 54 prisoners who were included in the 2011 prisoner exchange deal before they were betrayed and re-imprisoned.”

According to Israel’s Channel 1 on Tuesday, prisoner swap talks between Israel and Hamas have started through a third party, which it did not identify.

Read: Former Israeli minister calls for dialogue with Hamas

In 2011, Egypt mediated a prisoner swap deal which saw the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been in Hamas custody since 2006, in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held by the Israelis.

During the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza, Hamas reportedly captured two Israeli soldiers whose fate is currently unknown. The movement has refused to reveal any information about them without the release of the 54 Palestinians who were re-imprisoned by Israel despite being released in the Shalit exchange deal.