Skip to main content

Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange deal 'closer than ever'

Israel and Hamas finally appear to be making progress on a prisoner exchange deal mediated by Egypt and Mohammed Dahlan.
Palestinian supporters of dismissed senior Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan shout slogans during a protest to support him on December 18, 2014 in Gaza City.  Thousands of supporters of exiled Palestinian strongman Mohammed Dahlan demonstrated in Gaza to protest the reported sacking of dozens of members of the security forces who back him. AFP PHOTO/ MOHAMMED ABED        (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
Read in 

“Israel and Hamas are closer than ever to a deal on the release of the bodies of soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, and Israeli civilians Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayad, but there are still fairly large gaps to be closed,” a source in the Gaza Strip close to former senior Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. According to the source, now that Dahlan has become Gaza and Hamas’ possible savior through his attempts to save the Gaza Strip from total collapse, an Egyptian effort is also underway to seal an overall deal that both Israel and Hamas can accept.

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, has been holding the bodies of the two soldiers since the war of summer 2014, during which Israel launched Operation Protective Edge into the Gaza Strip. The movement is demanding the release of its members held in Israeli jails, including prisoners previously released in a 2011 deal with Israel for the return of soldier Gilad Shalit who were rearrested following the June 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youths in the West Bank. The rearrest of the released prisoners was one of the triggers for the bloody armed operation that followed, with Hamas perceiving that Israel had wiped out the most significant achievement it could present to the Palestinian public — freedom for some 1,000 prisoners in return for one Israeli.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.