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How Hamas plans to boost its declining popularity

The Hamas movement hopes a new exchange deal with Israel for the release of Palestinian prisoners will reverse its declining popularity among Palestinians.
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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Ever since the end of the latest Israeli war on Gaza on Aug. 26, 2014, Hamas has been working on a new exchange deal for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. By concluding this deal, Hamas hopes to show it is a major player in international efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hamas also aims to restore its declining popularity among Palestinians due to the continuing deterioration of the living and social conditions in the Gaza Strip.

On April 1, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, released four photos of Israelis it had detained, including soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who had been captured during the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip in 2014. The third photo was that of Israeli citizen Avraham Mengisto, who is of Ethiopian origin. Israel had officially announced his disappearance in July, but Hamas had not commented on the matter. The fourth detainee is soldier Hashim al-Sayyed, who is of Arab descent and a resident of the Negev in southern Israel. On April 20, 2015, Israel announced that he had left home and had not returned. Hamas refrained from revealing any details on how Mengisto and Hashem were captured.

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