A senior Hamas leader has threatened to permanently end the prisoner exchange talks with Israel in response to the latter’s continuous delay in the negotiations.
Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ leader in the Gaza Strip, made the threat during a rally organised in Gaza city to mark the 35th anniversary of the establishment of the Palestinian group, reports Xinhua news agency.
Tens of thousands of Hamas supporters attended the rally.
“In view of the (Israeli) occupier’s delay, we announce that we will give it a limited time to complete an exchange deal; otherwise, we will close the case of the four soldiers forever and find another way to liberate our prisoners,” he said.
In 2016, Hamas’ armed wing al-Qassam Brigades announced that it was holding four Israeli soldiers without specifying their fate, while the Jewish state has claimed two of them were already dead.
Israel had previously struck a prisoner exchange agreement with Hamas under the auspices of Egypt in 2011.
The deal resulted in the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Hamas in 2006, in exchange for the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in two batches.