Hamas Spurns “Humanitarian” Prisoner Deal

YERUSHALAYIM -

Hamas has rejected an Israeli offer to exchange a Hamas prisoner for one of the two Israeli civilians who were captured after they entered the Gaza Strip on their own, The Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday.

A Hamas source said that Israel was willing to return Hamas member Bilal Razaineh, 24, a senior terrorist operative of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing.

Israel is seeking the return of either Avraham “Abera” Mengistu, last seen on September 7, 2014, when soldiers saw him climb the fence into the Gaza Strip; or Hisham al-Sayed, a young Israeli-Bedouin man with mental problems, last seen as he made his way into the Hamas enclave in April 2015.

 

The proposal was described as a “humanitarian exchange,” in light of the fact that all three of the individuals mentioned reportedly suffer from mental or psychological illness.

However, Hamas refused, insisting that only a comprehensive deal, “all or nothing,” for its members in Israeli hands, was worth negotiating.

Hamas is also thought to be holding the bodies of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, two IDF soldiers killed in 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.

Senior Hamas officials have reportedly been to Egypt in recent weeks, and the Egyptians have urged them to make a deal with Israel. But Hamas says Egypt is unwilling to act as a go-between for the two sides, which is apparently what Hamas wants, and so negotiations have stalled.