Israeli officials are quietly seeking out an agreement with the Hamas terror organization, senior Israeli officials have said, as part of an ongoing effort to recover Israelis held in captivity in the Gaza Strip.
In the wake of the freshly inked reconciliation deal between Israel and Turkey, which maintains close ties to Hamas, the terror group has reportedly hardened its position, with officials pessimistic an agreement can be reached in the foreseeable future.
“Hamas wants a second Shalit deal, including the release of thousands of prisoners,” a senior official recently told Yediot Ahronot.
According to the report, Hamas has increased its demands as of late, demanding the release of 50 security prisoners as a pre-condition to talks with Israel.
Israel has thus far refused to free prisoners prior to talks, and has called for negotiations with no pre-conditions.
“Israel’s public debate on the issue began too early,” one senior official said. “We’re not going to pay a price [just to get] a sign of life [from the captives], if we did we’d be paying for every kind of pre-condition.”
The source also rejected claims by the families of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin - IDF soldiers killed in 2014 whose bodies are being held by Hamas – that Israel could have used talks with Turkey over the reconciliation agreement to press Hamas into releasing the bodies.
“The attempt to link the agreement with Turkey to negotiations over the release of the bodies and civilians [held captive] isn’t realistic and shows a lack of understanding about the other side.”
The official noted that the bodies of 20 Hamas terrorists were still being held by Israel and could be used as a bargaining chip for the return of the bodies of the two fallen IDF soldiers.