Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization has officially denied a media report that a prisoner swap deal might be in the works as part of a ceasefire deal.
“The news of a prisoner exchange deal is not true,” said Hamas political bureau member Mousa Dudin.
It is true that Hamas has been demanding the release of dozens of its members who were freed in a previous prisoner exchange but subsequently rearrested.
And Israel is demanding the return of two living hostages being held in Gaza – both with mental health issues – as well as the bodies of two IDF soldiers who fell during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge war with Hamas.
But no deal has been reached. Moreover, this is not the first time the two sides have sat down to try to work out an agreement.
Also added to the issues on the table this time by Hamas are the questions of the status of the Temple Mount compound and the Al Aqsa Mosque, along with the conditions for Hamas terrorists incarcerated in Israeli prisons.
According to a report published by the Al-Resala daily, Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh has conveyed three key demands regarding the Hamas inmates in Israeli prisons: renewal of family visits, putting a stop to Israel Prison Service “punishment” of security prisoners and ending Israel’s block on cell phone reception in the prisons.
Agreements on the crossings, electricity supply, expansion of the Gaza fishing zone, construction projects and temporary employment projects are also being discussed, along with the addition of an electrical power line and a natural gas line for a power plant.
Some of the “understandings” are expected immediately; others are to be delayed until after Israel’s April 9 elections.
But the bottom line is this: Israel must agree to them all, or Hamas and its terrorist allies will simply resume their rocket attacks and other forms of terror against Israeli civilians.
The only question now seems to be how much farther Israel is willing to be bullied by Hamas and its fellow Iranian proxy groups in Gaza.