Deputy Hamas chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya told Al-Jazeera on Monday that if Israel doesn’t pay the price of an alleged prisoner-exchange deal in the making, “its captives won’t see the light of day.”
Al-Hayya’s interview with the Qatar-owned satellite news network came on the heels of a report on Sunday that Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel was expected later this month to present Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett with a proposal for a prisoner-swap agreement to which Hamas has already agreed in principle.
The Israeli captives in question are the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul and civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, believed still to be alive.
In the interview, al-Hayya said that Hamas was conditioning the deal on the release of terrorist masterminds Marwan Barghouti of the rival Fatah faction and Ahmad Sa’adat of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Sa’adat orchestrated the 2001 assassination of former minister Rehavam Ze’evi in Jerusalem. Barghouti was convicted for his role in numerous deadly attacks against Israeli civilians during the Second Intifada.
Al-Hayya also claimed that Israel was the side delaying the deal, and that it had tried “but failed” to link it to the matter of Gaza’s rehabilitation following Operation Guardian of the Walls in May. According to al-Hayya, any prisoner swap must also include the six Palestinian terrorists who escaped the Gilboa prison in northern Israel in September, and were caught and put back in jail following an extensive hunt by Israeli security forces.
The deputy Hamas leader went on to say that he was proud of Iranian support.
“Tehran transfers ongoing aid to Hamas in any way possible,” said al-Hayya. “It helped and helps the forces and the capabilities of the resistance in Palestine.”
This report first appeared in Israel Hayom.