Hamas renews calls for prisoner swap deal with Israel
Hamas on Sunday urged the families of captured Israelis to pressure their government into accepting a prisoner swap deal offered by the Palestinian movement if they want to see their sons again.
Hazem Qassem, spokesman of Hamas in the besieged Gaza Strip, warned that the Israeli government led by Naftali Bennett has been avoiding a prisoners exchange with the Palestinian movement, and it "does not take the matters seriously", according to a press statement received by The New Arab.
Qassem added that families of the Israelis it held hostage will "simply not see their sons unless their government agrees to our conditions".
In April 2016, Abu Obaida, spokesman of Izz El-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, declared that his group captured four Israelis in 2014.
The operation had taken place during Israel's third large-scale bombardment of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014, which lasted 50 days.
Israel's military operation killed 2,200 Palestinians. Some 70 Israelis were killed, while four Israeli soldiers were reported missing.
Israel claimed that two of them, Shaul Aaron and Hadar Goldin, were Israeli soldiers who were killed, while the other two, an Arab and an Ethiopian, were civilians who entered Gaza under unclear circumstances.
Hamas has not disclosed information about the conditions of the four hostages but has since sought a prisoner swap deal, demanding the release of 60 Palestinian prisoners in exchange.
An Israeli security delegation visited Cairo last week, coinciding with the presence of a Hamas delegation headed by Ismail Haniyeh for several days.
"The delegation included security officials who met their Egyptian counterparts to review the results of talks with Hamas's delegation about its conditions to reach a long-term ceasefire and a prisoners swap deals with Israel," Israeli media reported.
Last week, a Hamas delegation headed by political chief Ismail Haniyeh and the leader of the movement in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar arrived in Cairo to hold a series of talks with senior Egyptian security intelligence officials.
Following the meeting, Egyptian officials said that talks with Bennett's government showed that Israel also wanted a deal.
According to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, Israel has detained more than 4,000 Palestinians in 23 prisons, including dozens who have spent more than 20 years in jail, 41 female prisoners, 225 children, and 520 administrative detainees.