Report: Deal to Bring Home Israelis From Gaza Still on the Table

YERUSHALAYIM -
Brother of late Israeli soldier Oron Shaul seen at the protest tent outside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s residence in Yerushalayim in 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A deal that would bring home four Israelis held by Hamas in Gaza in exchange for Hamas terrorists in Israeli prisons is still on the table, Reshet Bet said Monday. Based on sources quoted by the Alahala’ij news site, Israel and Hamas are still negotiating a possible deal.

On Sunday, Maariv reported that negotiations, which have been going on for some time brokered by a third party, have reached a dead end, with Hamas demanding Israel release some 1,500 terrorists, including 500 with “blood on their hands,” directly involved in murdering Israelis. Israel rejected these demands.

But the two sides are still talking indirectly, and on Sunday, Shin Bet officials met with 30 of the terrorists to discuss their possible release in the deal. The 30, according to the report, are terrorists who had been released in the Gilad Shalit deal and were rearrested. Hamas has been demanding that all these terrorists be released as a precondition for any deal, something Israel has refused to do.

The Maariv report said that, though it appeared that a deal was close numerous times, Hamas has always backed down, as Israel has been much tougher in its stance than it was in the Shalit deal, when over 1,000 terrorists were released in the exchange for the kidnapped soldier. Hamas wants to best that “record,” and Israel will not agree to releasing so many terrorists. On the other hand, Hamas has been under heavy pressure by Gazans to attain the release of the terrorists, especially the rearrested ones.

If a deal does transpire, Israel will get the remains of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oren Shaul, as well as Israeli civilians Avram Mengistu and Hisham Shabin a-Seid. Neither the government nor the IDF had any comment on either report.