Hamas Chief Nixes Prisoner Swap for Remains of IDF Soldiers Killed During Operation Protective Edge
Despite the August 26 ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the terrorist group is in no hurry to execute a prisoner exchange deal in order to return the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed and abducted during this summer’s Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s Ch. 2 News said Tuesday.
Hamas deputy political chief Moussa Abu Marzouk said that a deal could only be carried out after a comprehensive ceasefire agreement between the sides was reached, and that the group will not consider any deal with Israel if its demands are not met soon.
In late September, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza said the group was close to a deal with Israel to release Palestinian detainees, possibly in return for the remains of IDF St.-Sgt. Oren Shaul and 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin, who were declared killed in action during Operation Protective Edge.
Abu Marzouk, who handled negotiations over the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency that “it’s still too early to talk with Israel on the subject, and Hamas will not consider such [a deal] until Israel implements a comprehensive ceasefire agreement.”
Abu Marzouk said negotiations brokered between Israel and Hamas on the implementation of a permanent agreement remained stalled, and that the lack of progress barred continuation of discussions and an exchange of security prisoners and the soldiers’ remains.
“Hamas remains strong in the West Bank, and it has the support of the Palestinian people,” Abu Marzouk said, adding that the Islamist group, which regularly calls for Israel’s destruction, is working to remove its name from a US list of terrorist organizations.