Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Monday that there would be no negotiations of a prisoner swap deal with Hamas to secure the return of two Israelis who entered Gaza without authorization.
“Of course we are not talking about a deal. A deal is not on the agenda and we demand that Hamas return them to us without conditions,” Yaalon told the Israel Democracy Institute and the Makor Rishon newspaper.
Yaalon confirmed reports that both captives suffer from mental problems, and that Israel attempted to quietly arrange for their release on humanitarian grounds in recent months.
Meanwhile, the government’s handling of the affair, which it kept secret since September, came under scrutiny. State Comptroller Yosef Shapira was asked on Friday to look into the question of why Netanyahu did not inform the security cabinet or the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of affair. Members of both, including then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, said that they heard about it for the first time on the news last week like everybody else.