Hamas ready to exchange all detained Israeli soldiers for all Palestinian prisoners - GulfToday

Hamas ready to exchange all detained Israeli soldiers for all Palestinian prisoners


A Palestinian man sits in an armchair outside a destroyed building in Gaza City. AP

A senior Hamas official said on Wednesday the group was ready to release all the Israeli soldiers it is holding captive in exchange for all Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, amid negotiations to extend a truce over Gaza.

"We are ready to release all soldiers in exchange for all our prisoners," Hamas official and former Gaza health minister Bassem Naim told a press conference in Cape Town, South Africa.

On Wednesday, two Russian-Israeli women freed by Hamas entered Israel, the military said. The release was expected to be followed by the swap of 10 more hostages in Gaza for 30 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Israel has welcomed the release of dozens of hostages in recent days and says it will maintain the truce if Hamas keeps freeing captives. Still, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu underscored on Wednesday that Israel will resume its campaign to eliminate Hamas, which has ruled Gaza for 16 years and orchestrated the deadly attack on Israel that triggered the war.

"After this phase of returning our abductees is exhausted, will Israel return to fighting? So my answer is an unequivocal yes,” he said. "There is no way we are not going back to fighting until the end.”

He spoke ahead of a visit to the region planned this week by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to press for further extensions of the truce and hostage releases.

In the West Bank, Israeli troops killed two Palestinian boys - an 8-year-old an a 15-year-old - during a raid on the town of Jenin, Palestinian health officials said. Security footage showed a group of boys in the street who start to run, except for one who falls to the ground, bleeding.


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