Ready To Swap All Israeli Soldiers for All Palestinian Prisoners, Says Hamas 

Thu Nov 30 2023
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GAZA: A senior Hamas official, Bassem Naim has announced that the Islamist movement is prepared to release all Israeli soldiers it is holding captive in exchange for the release of all Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

This statement comes amid ongoing negotiations to extend a truce over Gaza. Naim, speaking during a visit to South Africa, mentioned the challenging negotiations aimed at extending the cessation of hostilities scheduled to end early Thursday after a six-day pause in fighting.

Hamas captured approximately 240 Israelis in an unprecedented attack on southern Israel on October 7, resulting in Israeli officials reporting around 1,200 casualties, primarily civilians. In response, Israel initiated a campaign vowing to eliminate Hamas, leading to air and ground operations that Hamas claims have caused nearly 15,000 casualties, mostly civilians.

Under the truce agreement, 60 Israeli hostages and 180 Palestinian prisoners have been released, bringing relief to their families. However, the issue of soldiers held by Hamas, who are excluded from the exchange agreement, remains a crucial point in negotiations. Hamas, known for leveraging hostages as bargaining chips, previously exchanged over 1,000 Palestinians for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.

Efforts to extend the truce and negotiate a permanent ceasefire are intensifying, with Hamas expressing willingness to extend the truce by another four days and release more Israeli hostages. The situation is complex, with conflicting reports, including a recent claim by Hamas’s armed wing that a 10-month-old baby, his four-year-old brother, and their mother were killed in Gaza due to Israeli bombardment. Israel’s army is investigating this report, while Naim confirmed the deaths of civilians under Israeli bombardment in previous weeks.

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