Hamas "political wing" official Muhammad Nazal on Thursday announced his terrorist organization is preparing for the start of a channel of negotiations with Israel, meant to release hundreds of terrorists in exchange for the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul hy"d.
Nazal said the talks will begin very soon, and apparently will take place in Cairo with Egyptian intermediaries, reports Yedioth Aharonoth.
According to Nazal, Egypt has officially told Hamas that the channel of communications for the terrorist swap will be held separately from the Cairo truce talks to be resumed in the last week of October, in which Hamas is leveling enormous demands such as a sea and airport as reward for its recent terror war on Israel.
The statement comes after Hamas official Mushir al-Masri last week said "Hamas has a bargaining chip, by forcing Israel to accept Palestinian demands. Ongoing indirect negotiations, brokered by Egypt, may lead to a new deal for prisoner releases. We will release as many Palestinian prisoners as possible."
Further evidence pointing to imminent terrorist swap talks has been seen in signs posted in Gaza, with the words "Wafa al-Ahrar deal 2: coming soon." Yedioth Aharonoth reported on the signs, noting it refers to the Gaza name given to the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal that saw 1,027 terrorists released.
Additionally, Hamas members posted stickers with the same slogan of "Wafa al-Ahrar deal 2: coming soon" on walls and streets throughout Gaza.
Hamas has demanded the 63 re-arrested Shalit deal terrorists to be released along with hundreds of others as part of the newest round of swaps.
Many of the Shalit terrorists returned immediately to violent terrorism, prime among them Ziyad Awad, who murdered police Chief Superintendent Col. Baruch Mizrahi hy''d in April while aided by his 18-year-old son Az a-Din.
From the Israeli side, a possible sign of the imminent talks was seen as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday appointed Col. (res.) Lior Lotan to the position of coordinator for missing and captive soldiers. That came after David Midan stepped down from the position he had held on a volunteer basis for three years, during which time the Shalit deal occurred.
"Israel must returned its missing home," Netanyahu said on the occasion.