A Hamas member of parliament said on Tuesday that a Palestinian prisoner release deal with Israel is in the works and that members of the group who were arrested before the start of Operation Protective Edge are to be set free.
Mohammed Attoun said that the deal will be completed soon but would not give any specific details, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported.
“We hereby confirm there will be good omens very soon and the occupation will yield, whether they like it or not, just as they did before,” Attoun told reporters. “I can confirm that there will be a deal soon to free our prisoners.”
Attoun stressed that Hamas members who had previously been released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal but were then arrested following the kidnapping and slaying of three Israeli teenagers in June must be given their freedom before any other deals can be made.
Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, were abducted and killed on June 12 by a Hamas-affiliated cell in the Hebron area. The three students were nabbed while waiting at a West Bank bus stop and hitchhiking post near Hebron.
Their abduction set off a search operation in the West Bank as well as a crackdown on the Hamas organization, which Israel accused of being behind the attack. The bodies of the three teens were found in a field near Hebron on June 30.
The abduction and killing sparked a summer of rising tensions that climaxed with Operation Protective Edge, the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in and around the Gaza Strip.
Last week, Mohammed Nazzal, a senior figure in Hamas’s political wing, stated that Israel and the Islamist group were poised to kick-start negotiations over the return of the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed during the Gaza fighting, amid indications a deal was on the way.
Nazzal said talks on the retrieval of the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul would probably begin later this month in Cairo, Israel Radio reported. In an interview with a Hamas-affiliated website, he stressed that his group would demand that Israel “pay a price” for every bit of information regarding the whereabouts of the soldiers’ remains.
The return of Goldin and Shaul’s remains is expected to be near the top of Israel’s list of demands in the ceasefire negotiations with Hamas in Cairo, scheduled to begin later this month. It is unclear what the contours of such a deal will be, but it’s likely Hamas sees it as an opportunity to free prisoners held by Israel.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.