Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper quoted a senior Israeli official as saying that the chances of reaching an agreement for a prisoner exchange between Israel and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) have increased.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that Israel is now waiting for an offer from Egyptian mediators for such a deal. Read alsoAl-Sinwar launched it in the midst of the Gaza negotiations.. What is the secret of the number 1111?1111..Speculation fills the Palestinian and Arab platforms after Sinwar’s statements Who are the Israeli prisoners of Hamas?Why does Israel link the calm and the reconstruction of Gaza to the return of its prisoners?
Egypt is mediating between Israel and Hamas to conclude a deal in which 4 Israelis – including two soldiers – will be exchanged, which Israel says have been held by the movement in Gaza since the 2014 aggression, in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons
Hamas is holding 4 Israelis, including two soldiers who were captured during the war on Gaza in the summer of 2014. As for the other two, they entered Gaza in unclear circumstances. The movement does not disclose the fate of the four detainees or their health status.
Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said during his visit to Cairo last Sunday, “I will focus on Israel’s commitment above all considerations, on returning our soldiers and citizens who are in the grip of Hamas.”
According to the official Israeli channel, “Kan”, Tel Aviv requires the return of the four Israelis before starting any reconstruction of the Strip, which is home to more than two million Palestinians and has been besieged by Israel since the summer of 2006.
Talks about the chances of a deal intensified after the ceasefire entered into force in Gaza at the end of last month, and talk about measures to consolidate the ceasefire.
The official told the newspaper that the Egyptians are interested in the issue, and understand that without a solution to the issue of prisoners and missing persons, there will be no reconstruction of the extensive destruction that occurred in the Gaza Strip during the Israeli aggression on the Strip last month.
The Israeli official added that the Egyptian role in achieving the ceasefire made Cairo an asset in the eyes of the US administration led by Joe Biden, who considers it a key factor in maintaining stability in the region, so this is a great achievement for President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
The Israeli official added that in light of the current situation, the Egyptians are determined to reach a deal, and there is an expectation that they will put an offer on the table in the coming days.
The Israeli newspaper indicated that Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz will discuss these issues with his American counterparts during his quick visit to Washington tomorrow, Thursday, and is expected to clarify once again Israel’s insistence on this issue.
She said that an Israeli security delegation is scheduled to go to Cairo soon to discuss the matter.
Referring to the Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar linking the exchange process to the number 1111, the newspaper said it is an indication that Hamas will demand the release of 1,111 prisoners in exchange for the release of soldiers and missing Israelis.
The Israeli official told the newspaper, “The problem is not the number, but the quality. We will not release prisoners with blood on their hands,” referring to Palestinian prisoners accused of killing or attempting to kill Israelis.
The last prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas took place in 2011 with Egyptian mediation, and included the exchange of an Israeli soldier with more than a thousand prisoners.
Al-Sinwar had launched the phrase “Record the number 1111 at the resistance, Hamas and the Al-Qassam Brigades,” at the conclusion of an unprecedented visit by the head of the Egyptian intelligence service, Abbas Kamel, to the Gaza Strip.
On October 11, 2011, Israel released 1,050 male and female prisoners from its prisons in exchange for the soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured by the resistance in 2006 in a deal called “Wafa Al-Ahrar”.
Al-Sinwar’s statement represented a glimmer of hope for the families of Palestinian prisoners awaiting the release of their relatives from the occupation’s prisons.
In Wafaa Al-Ahrar 1, Israel refused to include in the deal the liberation of leaders in Palestinian factions, most notably a member of the Central Committee of the Fatah movement Marwan Barghouti, and the Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Ahmed Saadat, as well as those whom it describes as having “blood on their hands”, who are prisoners who were responsible for Executing or directing commando operations that led to the killing of Israelis.
Meanwhile, the occupation army arrested, on Tuesday evening, a prominent Hamas leader, Jamal al-Taweel, 59, in front of his home in the city of Al-Bireh (central West Bank).
On March 7, Israel released Al-Taweel after an 8-month administrative detention (without trial), then returned and arrested him for hours on the 24th of the same month.
Jamal al-Taweel spent more than 14 separate years in Israeli prisons, the majority of which were in administrative detention, without clear charges being brought against him.