Hamas announces new condition over prisoner swap with Israel

The Gaza Strip-based Islamic Hamas movement has laid out new conditions for a prisoner swap deal with Israel, saying it will only start negotiations when the ones detained three years after the 2011 agreement were released.

On Monday, Hamas spokesperson Abdulatif al-Qanoua said that no deal will be reached with Israel unless it frees those it had detained again three years after the swap deal over the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was abducted in southern Gaza in 2006.

“Freeing the 60 currently imprisoned Palestinians who were released as part of the Shalit deal is an essential condition to start talks over a new deal,” said al-Qanoua during a protest near the International Red Cross Society office in Gaza.

“Israel has not respected the agreement after it re-detained the Palestinians it had released in the deal,” he said, urging Egypt to pressure Israel for their release.

In October 2011, Egypt brokered a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas, where Israel handed over 1,028 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of Shalit.

However, Israel imprisoned at least 70 Palestinians who had been released as part of the deal in 2014.

Israel believes that two nationals, Avera Mengistu and Hisham a-Seid, who disappeared after willingly crossing into Gaza, are kept in the besieged Palestinian enclave.

In addition, Hamas is believed to hold the remains of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, two soldiers killed during Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip in 2014.

Al-Qanoua’s remarks came a day after Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz instructed the army to use the remains of Palestinians withheld in Israel as “bargaining chip” for captured Israelis in Gaza.