Hamas Willing to Trade Information on Israelis Held in Gaza for Ventilators, Sources Say

Hamas and Israel are holding indirect negotiations for a prisoner exchange deal, Palestinian sources said on Sunday, adding that under the proposed agreement, Israel would send humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, including ventilators, as the Hamas-controlled enclave braces for a potentially disastrous outbreak of the coronavirus.

Sources in Gaza said that in a proposed first stage of the deal, Hamas would give Israel information on the two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two soldiers held in Gaza, via Egyptian and Russian mediators. This would be followed by a second stage of negotiations for the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

Israeli officials denied a delivery of ventilators was being negotiated.

Hamas specifically suggested that Israel release a number of old and sick prisoners as part of the first stage of the deal, as well as women and minors held by Israel, officials in the Strip told Haaretz. Later on, Hamas hopes to secure the release of more of its prisoners.

According to officials in Gaza, Hamas previously offered to exchange information on the two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two IDF soldiers held in Gaza in exchange for the release of a number of prisoners held in Israel.

Simha Goldin, the father of Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin whose body is still held in Gaza, in 2018.Elyahu Hershkowitz

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However, Musa Dudin, a member of Hamas' political wing, urged "caution" with reports on progress in the talks, arguing "the Israeli leadership hasn't stepped up" to promote neogtiations.

The current proposal, which is the initiative of Hamas Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar, was first conveyed to Israel last week. Mahmoud al-Zahar, a member of the Hamas political wing, said his organization’s leadership will examine Israel’s response and assess whether it is serious. He specified that Hamas has made its conditions clear and conveyed to Israel a list of the prisoners it wants released.