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Israel dangles Gazan operatives, but Hamas won't negotiate

Despite multiple offers by Israel, Hamas refuses to make a deal for the release of three Israelis before Israel releases 50 prisoners it recaptured in 2014.
Pictures of Palestinian Hamas militants held in Israeli jails are seen through a fence during a rally marking Palestinian Prisoner Day, in Gaza City April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem - RTX2AAQR

The prime minister’s special envoy on missing and captured Israeli soldiers, Col. (res.) Lior Lotan, revealed at the annual Herzliya Conference on Sept. 13 that Israel is holding 18 Hamas operatives it detained during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, as well as the bodies of 19 Hamas members killed in the operation. The information had never before been revealed, and surprisingly, the families of the dead and imprisoned, members of Hamas' military wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, have never spoken out on the issue.

Lotan probably divulged this information in the hope that the families in Gaza would pressure Hamas after Israel had done all it could to reach a deal with the organization on the return of the bodies of its soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin and the safe return of three Israeli civilians who had crossed the border into Gaza: Avraham Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed and Jumaa Ibrahim Abu-Ghanima.

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