update deskIsrael at War

Gallant dismisses Hamas prisoner swap as ‘psychological games’

"If there is no military pressure, nothing will progress," the defense minister tells families of the captives.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meets with the families of hostages held in the Gaza Strip, Oct. 29, 2023. Photo by Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant meets with the families of hostages held in the Gaza Strip, Oct. 29, 2023. Photo by Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry.

Israeli military pressure on Hamas is the best option to free the captives, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday told families of those held hostage by the terrorist group in Gaza.

Gallant dismissed a Hamas offer to exchange the 239 Israelis being held in Gaza for thousands of Palestinian terrorists sitting in Israeli prisons as “psychological games,” despite some families advocating for this approach.

“If there is no military pressure on Hamas, nothing will progress,” Gallant told relatives of the hostages, according to a Defense Ministry statement.

“The stories published by Hamas are part of its psychological games. Hamas is cynically using those who are dear to us,” he said.

Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar said on Saturday that the terrorist group is ready for a prisoner swap with Israel.

“We are ready to conduct an immediate prisoner exchange deal that includes the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for all prisoners held by the Palestinian resistance,” Sinwar said in a statement.

Some families who have loved ones held by Hamas said that Israel should accept the proposal, including in a meeting on Saturday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We made it clear that as far as the families are concerned, a deal for the immediate return of our family members within the framework of everyone for everyone should be considered and will have wide national support,” Leshem Gonen, whose daughter was kidnapped from the music festival near Kibbutz Re’im on Oct. 7, said at a rally in Tel Aviv after the Netanyahu meeting.

While Netanyahu told the families that Israel will “exhaust every possibility” to free the captives, Gallant and other officials are emphasizing that military force against Hamas is the most viable path to getting them back.

IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari dismissed Sinwar’s statement, saying that it was “psychological terror cynically used by Hamas to create pressure.

“Nothing is on the table regarding the abductees,” said Hagari.

The IDF spokesperson also noted that the statement had not come directly from the Hamas leader.

“Sinwar can’t issue statements; he speaks through intermediaries. Hamas doesn’t [refuses to] communicate directly with Israel,” he said.

Hagari said on Sunday that the military was working to bring home the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

“We are all doing everything to bring the hostages home. It is a top priority,” he said.

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