Hamas Issues Demands for Talks on Prisoners

Hamas foreign affairs head says info or negotiations will be in exchange for fourth batch of 'gesture' releases, 71 Shalit terrorists.

Dalit Halevy,

Avraham Mengistu
Avraham Mengistu
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The Hamas terrorist organization has set harsh conditions to give information or start indirect negotiations regarding the Israeli citizens and bodies of fallen soldiers that are being held by the group in Gaza.

It was released for publication on Thursday that 26-year-old Avraham Mengistu, an Israeli citizen of Ethiopian origin suffering from a mental illness, crossed into Gaza last September. Likewise it was revealed that a Bedouin Arab citizen had also entered Gaza and is being held by Hamas.

The capture of the two adds to the fact that Hamas continues to hold the bodies of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in last summer's Operation Protective Edge.

In an interview with Al Resalah, Osama Hamdan, head of Hamas's foreign affairs department, said that the terrorist organization has not discussed the number of "prisoners" it is holding or their condition until now, and as a result forced Israel in the end to admit that Mengistu and the Bedouin citizen are also in Gaza.

He said that Israel is trying to gain scraps of information about the abducted Israelis via international intermediaries who have contacted Hamas on the issue.

Hamdan said Hamas's conditions for holding indirect negotiations on the abducted Israelis include having Israel fully admit the number of missing "soldiers," as well as the release of the fourth batch of Israeli Arab terrorists that were to be freed in early 2014. The terrorists were to be liberated as part of "gestures" that Israel was making in order to hold peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Israel released 78 Arab terrorists prior to the final, fourth batch, but peace talks never materialized.

A last condition, according to Hamdan, involves Israel releasing all 71 terrorists released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal who were later rearrested for breaching the conditions of their freedom and returning to terrorism. A total of 1,027 terrorists were released in the Shalit deal.

This last condition would confirm Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh's statements Thursday that the release of the 71 recidivist terrorists will be a Hamas condition in talks about the release of the Israelis.

Hamdan emphasized that a negotiation on the "prisoners" is unrelated to the topic of a ceasefire with Israel, and he also negated reports in the Israeli press that talks had been held between Israel and Hamas regarding the abducted Israelis.