Israel, Hamas reportedly in advanced talks over prisoner swap

Published 27.06.2017 14:57
Updated 27.06.2017 17:44

Israel and Gaza-based Palestinian resistance group Hamas have begun indirect talks in Cairo with a view to reaching a prisoner-exchange deal, according to a report in Israeli media.

On Tuesday, Israel's state-run Channel 1 reported that the talks, which are now underway in the Egyptian capital, were being conducted via a third party.

The broadcaster did not provide further details except to say that negotiations, which, it reported, were "gaining momentum," first began in mid-June following a trip to Cairo by leading Hamas member Yahya Sinwar.

Hamas, for its part, has yet to confirm or deny the report.

Earlier this year, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's armed wing, said it had received an Israeli offer for a prisoner swap.

Last year, the Brigades said it was holding four captured Israeli soldiers, declining to give any further information as to whether or not they were alive.

The Israeli government, for its part, admits it lost track of two soldiers during its devastating 2014 military onslaught against the Gaza Strip, which has been governed by Hamas since 2007.

Israel has also said that two of its citizens had gone missing after illegally entering the Hamas-run coastal enclave.

In 2011, Hamas and Israel carried out an Egypt-sponsored prisoner swap under which Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit -- captured by Hamas in 2006 -- was freed in return for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

The Israeli authorities, however, have since re-arrested 60 of the Palestinians freed in the 2011 swap.

Hamas has said earlier that any talks with Israel would be conditioned on the release of the 60 re-arrested former prisoners.

There are roughly 7,000 Palestinians currently languishing in Israeli jails, according to Palestinian estimates.

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