Gantz Seeks to Locate Remains of Palestinian Bodies to Use in Swap
The Hamas movement said Monday that the release of all Palestinian prisoners who were liberated in a 2011 prisoner exchange deal and imprisoned by Israel again three years later, is a precondition for any future prisoner exchange.
Meanwhile, political sources in Israel uncovered that Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz instructed the army to locate the remains of Palestinian bodies to use them as a "bargaining chip" for captured Israelis in Gaza.
Ynet news quoted sources as saying that Gantz, who is also Israel's alternate Prime Minister, ordered the military to step up efforts to locate the bodies of "Palestinians killed during attacks against Israelis" whose burials are unknown.
On Monday, Hamas spokesperson Abdulatif al-Qanoua said that no deal would be reached with Israel unless it frees those it had detained again three years after the swap deal over Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.
"Freeing about 60 currently imprisoned Palestinians who were released as part of the Shalit deal is an essential condition to start talks over a new deal," al-Qanoua said during a protest near the International Red Cross Society office in Gaza.
The spokesman added that Israel has not respected the agreement after it re-detained the Palestinians it had released in the deal, urging Egypt to pressure Israel for their release.
The latest developments came amid reports on talks over a possible swap deal between Israel and Hamas.
Through the deal, Israel wants to return two Israeli citizens, Avera Mengistu and Hisham a-Seid, who disappeared after willingly crossing into Gaza.
In addition, the Israel wants to repatriate the remains of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, two soldiers killed during Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip in 2014.
In October 2011, Egypt brokered a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas, during which Israel handed over 1,028 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of Shalit.