Hamas says it is holding four Israeli ‘prisoners of war’
The armed wing of Hamas said it would not provide information on Israeli soldiers held by the terror group unless Israel was willing to “pay a price.”
The terror group in January had raised the prospect of exchanging an Israeli soldier declared dead in Gaza’s 2014 war in return for Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prison.
“We guarantee that there is currently no exchange or discussions concerning prisoners,” Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said in a televised address on Friday.
Abu Obeida said that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was a “liar”, and declared that the “occupation” would have to pay a price for the return of soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul and civilians Avraham Mengistu and a Bedouin whose name has not been made public.
In a televised statement, Abu Obeida said that Israel would have to make concessions if it wanted Hamas to provide information about the conditions of the “four prisoners of war.”
Israeli soldiers, dead or alive, have in the past proved valuable bargaining chips for Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007.
The bodies of two soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, are believed to be held by Hamas, which has not clarified their fate.
Avraham Mengistu, of Ethiopian descent, has been presumed held captive, since crossing into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in September 2014.
Information about the fourth missing Israeli – an Israeli Arab of Bedouin origin – was still under a gag order.
This is believed to be the first time the Hamas military wing has presented the photos of the four in an official release.