Hamas official: IDF operation meant to plant 'various means'

Senior Hamas official claims IDF operation in Gaza last week was intended to plant "various means" in the enclave.

Dalit Halevi ,

Scene of battle in Gaza
Scene of battle in Gaza

Khalil Al-Hayya, a member of the Hamas political bureau, said on Saturday that no progress had been made on an exchange deal with Israel which would see the release of terrorists in exchange for the return of Israelis and the bodies of Israeli soldiers being held by Hamas.

In an interview with Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV, Al-Hayya said that Hamas would not approve a new exchange deal with Israel prior to the release of terrorists who were released as part the Shalit deal and were re-arrested by Israel.

"The occupation is the one that places obstacles in the way of approving an exchange deal and wants to sell illusions to the families of the imprisoned soldiers, and it is not willing to complete the deal and no real progress on the matter was achieved," he said.

He further claimed that the IDF operation in Gaza last week, which led to the latest round of escalation between Israel and Hamas, was intended to plant "various means" in Gaza that could have caused serious consequences for the Palestinians.

Earlier on Saturday, a senior Israeli source denied reports in Arab media which said that Israel and Hamas had reached a deal that would bring back the missing soldiers and civilians the terror group has been holding in Gaza.

The source said that there has been no progress between the two sides.

Hamas has been holding the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul since the 2014 Operation Protective Edge.

Avera Mengistu and another Israeli civilian, Hisham al-Sayed, who went missing in Gaza, are believed to be held by Hamas as well.

The Red Cross has in the past urged Hamas to comply with its obligations under international humanitarian law and provide an update on the condition of Israeli nationals who went missing in Gaza.

Hamas has refused to comply with the request, and has also refused to allow the Red Cross to visit the missing Israelis.