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Hamas willing to accept less prisoner releases in exchange deal – report

CM 18/04/2021 1

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Hamas may be willing to compromise on the number of prisoners released in a future exchange deal with Israel, but Israeli officials aren’t keeping their hopes up, security sources told Walla News on Sunday.

The news comes as security officials reportedly held talks with Hamas through Egyptian mediation on a possible prisoner swap about a week and a half ago, according to the report.
The talks reportedly took place while the new Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Ghassan Alian, entered his new job about two weeks ago. According to the report, Egyptian intelligence officers met with Israeli security officials at the Erez Crossing and then continued into the Hamas-controlled area to speak with officials from the terrorist group.
The discussions took place over several hours, mostly concerning reaching an exchange agreement.
Security officials made it clear to Hamas that the terrorist group would need to compromise on the issue if they wanted economic progress, although representatives sent by the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, insisted on the release of hundreds of terrorists. The officials stated that “slow progress” had been made at the end of the talks, according to Walla.
Israeli officials do not have high expectations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Security Council head Meir Ben Shabbat were informed about the details of the talks.

The news comes after two rockets were fired towards Israel from the Gaza Strip on Thursday night and Friday night, with the IDF responding by striking a number of targets belonging to Hamas throughout the coastal enclave.

According to Walla, security officials are still unsure who fired the rockets. According to the Palestinian WAFA news, two Palestinians were injured during the IDF response on Friday night.
On Saturday, Palestinians marked Prisoner’s Day, claiming that about 4,500 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli prisons and that over 5,000 Palestinians had been arrested at some point during the coronavirus pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, about 367 Palestinian prisoners were infected with the novel coronavirus, according to WAFA.
The Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper published an article on Saturday stating that Palestinians expect about two-thirds of the Palestinians currently being held in Israeli prisons to be released once a prisoner exchange agreement is reached.
At the end of March, Hamas official Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook denied that negotiations on a possible prisoner exchange had been renewed, according to Palestinian media.Hamas is currently holding the remains of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, two soldiers assumed killed in 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, as well as two living civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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