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Hamas: no release of soldiers held in Gaza without prisoner swap

Hamas spokesman Hazim Qasem [hazemaq/Twitter]
Hamas spokesman Hazim Qasem [hazemaq/Twitter]

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement said on Wednesday that Israeli soldiers held in Gaza will not be released unless such a move is part of a prisoner swap. Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem confirmed this to Anadolu in response to remarks by Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who made any development in Gaza conditional on the release of four Israelis held in the coastal territory.

"The Zionist leadership knows full well that the issue of the soldiers held by the military wing of Hamas, Al-Qassam Brigades, is awaiting a prisoner swap," explained Qasem. "It is clear from Gantz's remarks that the Israeli government is not ready to pay the price of a prisoner swap."

The movement's spokesman suggested that the families of the captive Israeli soldiers should put more pressure on their government if they want their sons back.

The Hamas military wing has said that it captured two soldiers during Israel's military offensive against Gaza in 2014. The Israelis, however, say that the soldiers were killed and the Palestinians are holding their remains.

Two Israeli civilians are also being held in Gaza. They are said to have entered the territory "of their own accord" but Hamas has given no details of this. The movement learned from the negotiations for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured on active duty in 2006 and held for five years before being freed as part of a prisoner exchange deal.

READ: A prisoner exchange will be on the terms set by the Palestinian resistance

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