Hamas and Israel may be on the verge of a terrorist swap deal, sources said Tuesday - trading convicted murderers for the bodies of fallen soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, hy"d.
According to Israel Hayom, Hamas official Mushir al-Masri stated that such a deal is close to being concretized with Israeli officials.
Goldin and Shaul were both killed during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza; after initially being declared abducted, both were declared dead - and analysts have said their bodies are being held by Hamas as ransom for more terrorist releases.
Al-Masri hinted strongly at the deal in a Facebook post.
"Hamas has a bargaining chip, by forcing Israel to accept Palestinian demands," Al-Masri said. "Ongoing indirect negotiations, brokered by Egypt, may lead to a new deal for prisoner releases."
"We will release as many Palestinian prisoners as possible," he added.
Initially, Israel reportedly refused to sign an agreement that would not include the return of Goldin's and Shaul's bodies in truce agreements with Hamas.
However, Jerusalem appeared recently to be relenting on this point, and the issue has drawn ire from some nationalist MKs.
Several days ago, the issue was raised again by Likud MK Ze'ev Elkin, who urged Jerusalem to hold on to the bodies of Hamas terrorists and murderers of three Israeli teenagers, Marwan Kawasmeh and Amar Abu-Eisha, until Goldin's and Shaul's bodies were released.
Previous terrorist releases have elicited fierce protests from nationalist MKs and bereaved families alike, who have noted that the practice provides Hamas with incentives to continue inciting terror.