Hamas turned down prisoner and hostage swap deal
Hamas has turned down a proposed prisoner and hostage swap deal, an Israeli official said on Tuesday.
Col. (Res.) Lior Lotan, the Israeli Prime Minister’s representative in efforts to free hostages held in Gaza, said that at the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Israel held the bodies of 19 Gazans killed during the 50 day war and has another 18 hostages in its custody.
Hamas refused to trade for the remains of Israeli soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin who are believed to have been killed during the summer conflict.
Goldin and Shaul’s bodies were not recovered from the battlefield following Israel’s conflict with Hamas in 2014 and are considered by the Israeli military to have been killed in action based on forensic evidence.
Since the end of Operation Protective Edge, at least two more Israelis have crossed into the Gaza strip, and a number of Gazans have tried to illegally cross into Israel.
Ethiopian-Israeli Avraham Mengistu independently crossed the security fence into Gaza on September 7, 2014, shortly after the war ended.
Mengistu successfully jumped over the fence and crossed into Gaza before the troops were able to stop him. After moving away from the fence, he began moving south and when he got to the Gazan shore, he joined a local group of fishermen and has not been seen since, according to reports.
He is considered by the defense establishment “to be held against his will by Hamas in Gaza.”
The family of Hisham al-Syed, an Arab-Israeli of Bedouin origin, reported him missing on April 20, 2015.
Earlier this year, al-Syed’s father issued a statement calling on Hamas to release his son, who he said suffers from mental problems and is not a soldier.
Israel does not allow its citizens to enter Gaza, partly out of fears that they may be used as bargaining chips to demand concessions, including the release of prisoners.
According to Lotan, Hamas refused a deal for al-Syaed and and Mengistu as well and set a condition of including prisoners not involved in the 2014 conflict.
Israel did not accept this condition.
“Hamas does not respect the norm of exchanging hostages following a war,” says Lotan. Both offers were made through a third party.