‘Currently no chance’ of prisoner swap with Israel, says Hamas official

Terror group member in Qatar says ‘military operation’ continuing and there’ll be no talks on hostages until it ends; Hamas has threatened executions in response to Israeli strikes

Palestinian terrorists drive to the Gaza Strip with what is believed to be the body of Shani Louk, on October 7, 2023. (AP/Ali Mahmud)
Palestinian terrorists drive to the Gaza Strip with what is believed to be the body of Shani Louk, on October 7, 2023. (AP/Ali Mahmud)

The Hamas terrorist group is not open to negotiating a prisoner exchange with Israel during hostilities, a member of the Hamas political office in Qatar said Monday.

“The military operation is still continuing… therefore there is currently no chance for negotiation on the issue of prisoners or anything else,” Husam Badran, a Hamas official, told AFP from Doha.

“Our mission now is to make every effort to prevent the occupation from continuing to commit massacres against our people in Gaza, which directly target civilian homes,” he added.

Hamas has threatened to begin executing Israeli hostages in response to Israeli strikes in Gaza carried out without warnings.

Hamas terrorists carried out a massacre of hundreds of Israeli civilians across southern communities and at a music festival on Saturday, taking over 100 people hostages including children, women, and elderly people. The terror group also killed dozens of soldiers and claims to be holding captive senior military officials.

“From this hour, any targeting of our people in the safety of their homes, without warning, will be met with the execution of civilian hostages, which will be broadcast with video and audio,” said the spokesperson, who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Obaida.

Throughout its operations in Gaza, Israel has often warned Gazan civilians to clear buildings targeted for strikes to minimize civilian casualties.

“There will not be negotiations on the subject of prisoners while under fire,” said Obaida.

“We’re prepared to continue the campaign for a very long time. We are sure our young people in the West Bank, in Jerusalem and Arab Israelis value every missile, firearm, knife and stone,” Obaida said.

Israel has said it is working to free people kidnapped as Hamas terrorists stormed the Gaza border on Saturday, killing people in nearby communities and towns.

An informed source tells AFP that Qatar is spearheading efforts to negotiate an exchange of prisoners between Israel and Hamas, following the Palestinian group’s shock attack over the Gaza border.

Discussions about the release of Israelis kidnapped during the terror group’s incursion into so did do not provide additional details.

An Israeli official denied a report claiming negotiations were ongoing under Qatari mediation for a prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas, saying “there is no negotiation” over the release of hostages.

It is believed that more than 130 people were abducted from Israel and taken into Gaza by terrorists who infiltrated on Saturday. The captives include women, children and the elderly. Hamas has claimed to be holding 100 hostages, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad said it is holding 30. Israel has yet to verify the exact figure of those being held.

Member of the political bureau of Hamas Husam Badran, center, speaks at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza city on August 3, 2018. (AFP/ MAHMUD HAMS)

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Monday that the army has “the full details” on all of those taken captive by the terror group.

“As of now, we have notified 30 families. When we complete notifying the families, the number of hostages in Gaza will be made available to the public,” he said.

Israel has decided that its attacks on terrorist targets in Gaza will be carried out with great force and breadth, even at the cost of harming Israelis who are being held captive in Gaza, a senior government source told reporters.

The source clarified that if Israel has precise intelligence information on the location of Israeli captives, it will of course refrain from attacking in that specific location. But so long as no such information exists, all Hamas targets will be attacked.

More than 900 people have been killed in Israel since the surprise attack. On the Gaza side, at least 560 people have been killed after Israel launched airstrikes in response to the Hamas invasion.

Qatar has hosted a political office for Hamas for more than a decade, and has been one of the group’s principal backers.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh issued a video message from Qatar on Saturday, broadcast on the terrorist group’s Al-Aqsa television channel, saying they are on the “verge of a great victory” and demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners.

On Sunday, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani held a call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, saying Qatar was “making all its diplomatic efforts with various concerned parties” in a bid to de-escalate the conflict.

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