Mengistu, Goldin and Shaul.
(photo credit: Courtesy,REUTERS)
In an effort to influence Israeli public opinion in favor of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the April elections, Israel began indirect negotiations with Hamas to secure the release of the Israelis held captive by the terrorist group, the London-based Al-Arabi Al-Jadid reported Saturday.
"The Israeli government has manipulated the public time and time again, but this time it seems that their desire to complete a prisoner exchange before the upcoming elections is strong, especially in light of the strong opposition the current Israeli government is facing," Hamas officials said according to a report on Israel's Channel 12 News.
The officials stressed that Hamas will not change its negotiating position.
Hamas said that they will consider returning the captives if Israel will release all 1,027 Hamas members who were re-arrested after first being released as part of the 2011 deal to free IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Israeli citizens Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed have been held captive by Hamas since 2014. Hamas is also holding the remains of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.
Many of the Hamas members released as part of the Shalit deal have returned to violence and terrorism. Ziad Awad was sentenced in 2017 to two life sentences for murdering Ch.-Supt. Baruch Mizrahi during a 2014 West Bank Passover terror attack. Awad's son Izzadin Ziad Hassan Awad, 21, was convicted of aiding him in the murder.
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