Hamas: Deal to Release Captured Israelis Imminent

YERUSHALAYIM -
hadar goldin
Israelis protest in demand of retrieving the missing bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul from Hamas captivity, outside the prime minister’s residence in Yerushalayim on Sunday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Sources in Hamas expressed optimism that negotiations with Israel being conducted via third-party interlocutors would pay off, and that a grand deal that would see the return of four missing Israelis – in return for the release of many more Hamas terrorists – would take place. The sources, speaking to the Turkish Andalou news agency, said that the deal had been worked out via negotiators representing U.N. Special Envoy to the Middle East Nikolai Maldenov and Egyptian officials, and would be executed in the fall.

According to the sources, the deal entails the PA’s taking over the reins of government in Gaza. Large sums of money will be invested to revive the Gaza economy. The deal includes an overall agreement with Israel, in which Hamas will pledge to lay off terror attacks for between five and 10 years. Israel will release many of the terrorists in its prisons, while Hamas will return the remains of IDF soldiers it is holding, as well as two live Israelis.

In addition to the return of the Israelis, Egypt will agree to leave the Rafiach crossing open permanently, and Israel will significantly liberalize the list of items it allows to be imported into Gaza. Later on, the deal will also see the construction of a seaport and airport to serve Gaza, most likely in northern Sinai.

The Security Cabinet earlier this week discussed the deal, and is set to meet again on Thursday to discuss the latest developments. Sources told Hadashot News that discussions at Monday’s meeting had concluded with officials saying that the chances of a reported agreement between Israel and Hamas succeeding were “low.” The sources made the comments in the wake of a meeting of the Security Cabinet Sunday that discussed the details of the deal, which was being brokered by Egypt and UN officials. Appearing at the meeting was IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott, who reportedly told the ministers that the IDF was “prepared for all scenarios.”