Hamas Expects Prisoner Swap

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A statement Monday by Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, indicated that a potential trading of prisoners with their rivals Israel could occur soon should both sides accept the conditions of the transfer. The move would see the release of around 1,450 Palestinian prisoners currently being held in Israeli jails.

Izz ad-Din al-Kassam, the armed wing of Hamas, indicated on their website in Arabic that Gilad Shalit’s release would be a condition of the prisoner exchange, which is likely to occur within the next few hours, it said. Shalit, at the time of his capture in 2006 during which two were killed, was corporal of the Israel Defense Force’s (IDF’s) Armor Corps, and was the first Israeli soldier captured by Hamas since 1994. He has been held ever since.

The deal has been given approval by Hamas leadership in Damascus, who have said that the ball is in Israel’s court; Hamas’ demands have thus far been accommodated by Israel to a large extent, and intense negotiations have taken place in Cairo, with Egypt as the mediator. According to the Hamas website, “The main hurdle in the way of an agreement is Israel’s demand to deport more serious terrorists,”, and issues of similar gravity have demanded exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal be summoned to Cairo within 48 hours.

Other key officials are present at the Cairo negotiations, which according to Arab and Israeli news agencies, are intensive.

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