Monday, July 22, 2024

Prisoner swap a priority: Hamas

Abu Obeida, a spokesman for the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, has stated the issue of the captives remains a priority for Hamas.

“We continue to prioritise the prisoners case, and we stress that the only way to free them is through [a] complete or gradual swap of prisoners,” he said in a televised address on Al-Aqsa TV.

The Qassam Brigades spokesman stated the group is holding women captives as well as sick and elderly people and other civilians but stressed that Israel is holding the same types of people in its prisons.

“This issue cannot be resolved except via a trade within each of these categories [of prisoners and captives] or in a comprehensive process that includes everyone,” he added.

Negotiations are continuing between Israel and Palestinian group Hamas, mediated by Qatar in coordination with the United States, that could see 10-15 Hamas-held captives released in exchange for a multiday pause in fighting, Hamas and Egyptian sources have told the Reuters and AFP news agencies.

More than 240 people, including Israeli soldiers and civilians, as well as foreigners from numerous countries, were taken captive by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups during a deadly assault on Israel on October 7 that Israeli authorities say killed more than 1,500 people.

Five hostages have been released thus far, most of them following negotiations through diplomatic channels with assistance from countries including Qatar and Egypt, and one after a ground incursion by Israeli soldiers inside Gaza.

The Palestinian group Hamas has announced it is ready to conclude a deal on swapping prisoners with the Israeli side.

Hamas Spokesman Hazem Kasem has recently told Al Jazeera the movement is ready to release all the prisoners held by it in exchange to all those held by Israel.

There are 19 prisons within Israel and one inside the occupied West Bank that hold thousands of Palestinian prisoners.

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