Hamas will refuse any deal to return two Israeli civilians in its custody, as well as the remains of IDF soldiers Sgt. Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin, unless it is part of a wide-scale prisoner exchange, the London-based Al-Shark Al-Awsat reported on Saturday.
The Arabic language newspaper quoted sources within Hamas as saying that the humanitarian and political issues in Gaza must be separated, and that the organization refuses to combine solutions to the humanitarian crisis with what it calls ‘political solutions’, adding that the release of Israeli civilians and soldiers is conditioned on Israel releasing hundreds of security prisoners.
According to the report, Hamas has been presented with three deals that address the situation in Gaza, with two of them including the release of the Israelis in its custody in return for the humanitarian rehabilitation of Gaza alongside opening the Gaza border crossings and allowing for the import of all goods into the strip.
Hamas has rejected the two first deals on the grounds that it is only willing to discuss the release of prisoners as part of a prisoner swap deal with Israel. The terrorist organization also rejected a third proposal put forth by United Nations Special Envoy Nikolay Mladenov, by which Hamas will end its hostilities against Israel, in return for fuel shipments to Gaza alongside the opening of the border crossings. According to the report, Hamas called all three proposals ‘incomplete’, adding that it is unwilling to discuss its weaponry unless Israel lifts the security blockade on Gaza.