Ismail Haniyeh
Ismail Haniyeh Reuters

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Tuesday the terrorist group was ready to negotiate with Israel to trade two Israeli captives and the bodies of two soldiers it is holding.

"We in Hamas are ready to start negotiations to achieve a deal through a third party mediator," Haniyeh said in a speech marking the Palestinians' annual Prisoners' Day, according to AFP.

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

In addition, two Israeli civilians who went missing in Gaza - Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed - 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.

The group has previously suggested it is willing to reach a deal similar to the 2011 agreement that saw Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit freed in exchange for more than 1,000 jailed terrorists.

Haniyeh’s comments on Tuesday, however, were his most direct yet on the issue.

Many of the terrorists who were freed in the Shalit deal resumed their terrorist activities and planned murderous attacks against Israelis.

The families of both Shaul and Goldin have worked tirelessly for the return of the bodies of their sons.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met last week with the Shaul and Goldin families and briefed them on ongoing Israeli government efforts to return their sons.

"The Israeli government is acting in open and covert ways to bring back IDF soldiers and civilians in Hamas captivity," Netanyahu told the families.