HamasAbed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Israel in recent weeks held "intensive" discussions with Hamas over a deal that could secure the release of four Israeli citizens who are believed to be held captive by the group in Gaza, i24news reported Monday, citing Israel's public broadcaster Kan.

The renewed push to strike a deal was sparked by the recent election of Yahya Sinwar as Hamas's leader in Gaza, the television station reported, without citing sources.

Hamas is holding the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed during the counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

In addition to Goldin and Shaul,two Israeli citizens, Avraham (Avera) Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, are missing in Gaza and are believed to have mental illnesses.

Monday's report said that Sinwar has met in Cairo with senior members of the Egyptian government and with senior Palestinian figure Mohammed Dahlan, who was also involved in the 2012 deal to release Israel soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity.

The report said that Israel was also involved in the Cairo talks, but did not specify how.

Hamas has in the past refused to negotiate with Israel over the citizens, choosing instead to taunt the Goldin and Shaul families.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) recently urged Hamas to comply with its obligations under international humanitarian law and provide an update on the condition of the Israelis who went missing in Gaza.