The chances of a prisoner exchange deal being completed between Israel and Hamas have increased over the past few days, a senior Israeli official said, explaining that Tel Aviv is now waiting for Egyptian mediators to convey Hamas' offer to conclude the deal.
"The Egyptians are interested in the issue, and they understand that without a solution to the issue of [Israeli] prisoners and missing persons, there will be no reconstruction of the extensive destruction in the Gaza Strip," Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper quoted the senior Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying.
"The Egyptian role in achieving a ceasefire made Cairo an asset in the eyes of the US administration of President Joe Biden, who now considers it a key factor in maintaining stability in the region. This is a great achievement for President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi," the source added.
"Therefore, the Egyptians are determined to reach a deal, and it is expected that they will put an offer on the table in the coming days," he said.
The newspaper pointed out that Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz "will discuss these issues with his American counterparts during his quick visit to Washington today where he is expected to clarify once again Israel's insistence on releasing Israelis detained by Hamas".
The paper said an Israeli security delegation is scheduled to visit Cairo soon to discuss the matter.
It is unclear how many prisoners Hamas will demand in exchange for the four prisoners of war it is said to be holding. However, on Monday, Hamas leader Yahya Al-Sinwar said the movement is ready for "immediate negotiations" to reach a prisoner exchange with Israel.
Following his meeting with Egyptian Intelligence chief, General Abbas Kamel in Gaza, Sinwar told reporters cryptically to "write down the number 1,111."
"You will recall it well [in the future]," Sinwar said.
Remarking on Sinwar's hint, the Israeli official told the paper that "the problem is not the number, but the quality. We will not release prisoners with blood on their hands," referring to Palestinians detained on charges of murder or attempted murder of Israelis.
Israel imprisons more than 4,500 Palestinians, including several hundred accused of murdering or attempting to kill Israelis.