Hamas Says Ready To Swap All Detained Israeli Soldiers For Palestinian Prisoners
A senior Hamas official said on Wednesday the Islamist movement was ready to releasecaptive in exchange for all Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, amid negotiations to extend a truce over Gaza.
Hamas official and former Gaza health minister Bassem Naim said the group wasthrough negotiations” to extend a cessation of hostilities that was scheduled to end early Thursday after a six-day pause in fighting.
“We are ready to release all soldiers in exchange for all our prisoners,” Naim told a press conference in Cape Town, during a visit to South Africa.
Gaza militants took about 240 captives from southern Israel in an unprecedented October 7 attack that Israeli officials say killed around 1,200 people, most of them civilians.
In response, Israel has vowed to eliminate Hamas and has unleashed an air and groundHamas government says has killed nearly 15,000 civilians.
Sixty Israeli hostages and 180 Palestinian prisoners have been released under the truce agreement
Among the hostages still held by Hamas are soldiers who are excluded from the exchange agreement, and the Islamist movement is likely to use them as an important bargaining chip.
In 2011, more than 1,000 Palestinians were exchanged for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who
Activist groups say there are more than 7,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, many of them far more prominent than the youngsters and women freed so far.
Hamas had already in October demanded Israel release all Palestinian prisonersto let hostages in exchange.
The new proposal came as efforts intensified to extend thewith a source close to the militant group saying Hamas was willing to extend the truce by another four days and release more Israeli hostages.
“We are trying with mediators to negotiate a permanent ceasefire,” Naim said.
Earlier Israel’s army said it was investigating a report by Hamas’s armed wing that a 10-month-old baby hostage, his four-year-old brother and their mother had all been killed in Gaza.
“We confirmed two to three weeks ago that 60 Israelisbeen killed under Israeli bombardment and are still under the rubble,” Naim said.
“The woman and her two children are among them, I can confirm that.”