(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) The Palestinian terror group Hamas claimed Wednesday that it recently turned down an Israeli offer of a prisoner exchange deal meant to secure the return of two civilians and the remains of two soldiers held in the Gaza Strip.
Israel Defense Forces Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin were killed in separate battles during the Israel-Hamas war in the summer of 2014. Ethiopian Israeli Avera Mengistu and Bedouin Hisham al-Sayed, both suffering from mental health issues, crossed into Gaza willingly in 2014 and 2015, respectively, and were captured by Hamas.
A senior Hamas official was quoted by the Qatar-based Al Jazeera news network Wednesday as saying that the Israeli offer failed to meet Hamas's basic demands.
Earlier this week, Arab media reported that the Gaza-ruling terrorist group rejected an Israeli offer to exchange Bilal Razaineh, a Hamas operative held in Israel, for one of the prisoners held in Gaza. Razaineh, the brother of a top Hamas security official, suffers from a heart condition. According to reports, Israel sought to release him on humanitarian grounds in order to secure the return of either Mengistu or al-Sayed.