A Qatari mediator between Israel and Hamas said Sunday that the terror group that rules Gaza will not return the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul unless Israel releases Palestinian security prisoners in exchange.
His comments appeared intended to respond to Israeli officials who have suggested in recent weeks that they would be willing to work toward easing the blockade on the territory. Recent reports suggested that Israel has offered to establish a seaport in Cyprus for Gaza in exchange for the release of the remains of Goldin and Shaul, as well as two living Israeli civilians currently held by Hamas.
“The rehabilitation of Gaza in exchange for the return of the Israeli captives is not possible,” Muhammad al-Amadi, who has been part of indirect and informal talks between Israeli and Hamas officials, told the Israeli Kan public broadcaster.
“There’s no such thing as captives in exchange for a port or airport, or opening of borders,” he said. “Anyone who says otherwise won’t accomplish anything.”
“Hamas doesn’t want war, even though it has grown vastly stronger since Protective Edge [the 2014 war with Israel],” Amadi was quoted as saying.
“Only the formula ‘prisoners in return for prisoners’ will work,” he insisted.
Amadi said Hamas would not agree to any deal that does not include the release of security prisoners who were rearrested after being released in the 2011 prisoner swap for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.