Hamas said demanding release of over 1,000 security prisoners in exchange for release of 40 hostages

Activists and families of hostages held by terror groups in Gaza since October 7 block the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv with large cutouts of their portraits, during a protest calling for their release, March 14, 2024. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Activists and families of hostages held by terror groups in Gaza since October 7 block the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv with large cutouts of their portraits, during a protest calling for their release, March 14, 2024. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Hamas, in its Thursday response to the latest hostage deal framework, is demanding Israel release over 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners, including roughly 100 serving lifetime sentences for murdering Israelis in exchange for the release of 40 female, elderly and wounded hostages, the Walla news site reports.

The ratio of security prisoners to hostages is lower than it was in Hamas’s previous response, but it is still more than double the framework that Israel agreed to last month during a Paris summit with intel chiefs from Israel, the US and Egypt along with the prime minister of Qatar, which envisioned Israel releasing 400 security prisoners, including 15 sentenced to life for murdering Israelis.

For the release of each of the five female soldiers — who are believed to be among the first 40 who would released during the six-week, first stage of the truce deal — Hamas is demanding 50 security prisoners, including 30 convicted of murder.

The two most difficult Hamas demands for Israel, however, are for the IDF to withdraw from the corridor it created south of Gaza City to prevent Palestinians from returning to northern Gaza, and for Israel to agree to a permanent ceasefire during the second stage of the deal. This would come after the initial six-week ceasefire and be in exchange for the release of the remaining male hostages. Israel will also have to release a large number of Palestinian security prisoners in exchange for those remaining male hostages.

In the third stage, when Israel seeks the release of bodies being held by Hamas, the terror group is demanding agreements regarding the reconstruction of Gaza and the removal of Israel’s blockade on the compound.

Gaps between the sides following Hamas’s response remain large, but the fact that the terror group finally provided a response yesterday was enough for Israel to decide that it will send a delegation led by Mossad chief David Barnea on Sunday for another round of talks in Doha, where a Hamas delegation will be as well.

What still must be decided, though, is the mandate the Israeli delegation will have. This has been a question debated for days, but Netanyahu put off answering it until Hamas provided a response.

It was initially discussed in the war cabinet earlier this week, but Netanyahu pushed the matter to the broader security cabinet, which held a meeting earlier today but had to pause in the middle before they could finish because many of the members observe Shabbat.

The war cabinet will meet on Saturday to make a final decision regarding how much leeway to give the Israeli negotiating team.

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