Hamas: Israel Halted Visits to Terrorists in Prisons

YERUSHALAYIM -
Hamas members watch as a bus carrying Palestinian prisoners arrives at the Rafah crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip, October 18, 2011. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Israel has been preventing family members from visiting terrorists held in Israeli prisons, the Ministry for Prisoners in Gaza said Thursday. In a statement, Abd al-Rahman Shadid said that he had been informed by Israel that the visits had been halted “until further notice.”

Shadid said that Israel was doing this in order to create pressure on Hamas, to encourage it to release the remains of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, Hy”d, and to hand over IDF soldier Avraham Mengistu, last seen entering Gaza in 2014. Israel had no comment on the report.

Meanwhile, Hamas on Thursday denied reports earlier in the week that Israel was negotiating with the terror organization for the release of the soldiers’ remains. According to the earlier reports, the two sides were discussing a deal that would entail Israel releasing Hamas terrorists in exchange for the two soldiers’ remains and for Mengistu, presumed to still be alive.

But a Hamas spokesperson speaking in Arabic media, and quoted by Israel Radio, said that Hamas’ policy since the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014 was not to negotiate with Israel unless a precondition was fulfilled — that of releasing 54 terrorists who were rearrested after being released in the deal to free imprisoned IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

“This is our set policy, and we have no plans to change it; the prisoners who were freed in the Shalit deal must be released before any talks can go on,” the spokesperson said.