A senior Hamas official stated that the terror group is on the brink of kick-starting negotiations over the return of the remains of two IDF soldiers killed during the summer war in Gaza.
Mohammed Nazzal, a high-ranking figure in Hamas’s political wing, said that talks on the retrieval of the bodies of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin would begin at the end of the month in Cairo, Israel Radio reported.
In an interview with a Hamas website, Nazzal reiterated previous Hamas rhetoric that Israel would “pay a price” for any information regarding the location of the soldiers’ remains.
Nazzal failed to state what Hamas would demand in exchange for information leading to the Shaul and Goldin’s bodies.
Both soldiers were killed during fighting in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. They were each declared dead by the IDF based on evidence at the scene. The bodies were never recovered, having believed to be kidnapped by Hamas.
The return of Shaul and Goldin’s bodies are believed to be amongst some of the most important demands to be made by Israel when ceasefire negotiations with Hamas begin. Indirect talks are scheduled to take place in Cairo later this month.
Observers believe that Hamas is purposely withholding information on the location of the bodies to force Israel to release terrorists from prison.
With ceasefire talks nearing, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri stated that the terror group is ready and willing to wage war on Israel once again.
“The conditions for the situation in Gaza exploding still exist,” he told Al-Jazeera. “On the contrary, they are even tougher now than they were before the Israeli aggression in Gaza.”
Abu Zuhri called on the international community to pressure Israel, threatening to “blow up again” if the terror group’s demands are not met.
“If the international community wishes that the situation will not blow up again, it must step in and resolve the situation and handle it through a real and serious removal of the siege,” he stated.
Abu Zuhri’s remarks come as international leaders, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, are meeting in Cairo to discuss the rebuilding of Gaza. The US has pledged $212 million towards rebuilding efforts. The Palestinian government is asking for $4 billion.