Qatar is mediating a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas, the Nazareth-based Kul al-Arab weekly reported on Wednesday.The report cited quotes by Hamas officials in which Qatar mediated discussions between the two sides in order to sign an agreement which would include the release of the bodies of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, as well as Israeli civilians Avraham Mengistu and Juma Ibrahim Abu Anima, who strayed into the Gaza Strip in September 2014 and July 2016, respectively. According to the report, Israel agreed to a Hamas demand, that it release security prisoners who were previously released in the Gilad Schalit deal, on condition that they be deported to Gaza or Qatar. These prisoners released in the Schalit deal were subsequently re-arrested during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, after they violated the terms of their release.
Hamas reportedly rejected the deportation stipulation, and therefore refused to sign the agreement.Recently, a senior Hamas official hinted that one of the soldiers said to have been killed in the 2014 war, and whose body is believed to be held by Hamas, is still alive. However, the terrorist organization has refused to release further details or confirmation. Earlier, Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar stated that what Hamas holds in its hands would force Israel to comply with its demands.At the beginning of the month, the security cabinet met to discuss ways to return the bodies of slain soldiers along with Israeli civilians held in the Gaza Strip, and unanimously agreed on a plan of action to promote the issue. Members of the cabinet decided that, until this happens, the bodies of Hamas terrorists would not be given to the terrorist organization that controls the Gaza enclave, but buried in Israel.The Goldin family launched a campaign in June, calling for Israel and the international community to ensure the return of their son’s body.“Hadar fell into captivity during a UN-brokered cease-fire. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and the UN Security Council bear full responsibility for bringing Hadar back,” Simcha Goldin, Hadar’s father, said at a press conference in Tel Aviv.Following the press conference, Simcha, and his wife, Leah, flew to New York to bring the issue to the attention of the 71st meeting of the UN General Assembly.Leah Goldin said she believes that the UN can pressure Hamas to return her son’s body. “We know the UN can pressure Hamas until the latter can no longer bear the cost of continuing to hold our son’s body.”
Brother of missing Israeli Avraham Mengistu calls for government to bring him back from Gaza (July 9, 2015)