Hamas official says real chance to achieve prisoner swap with Israel

By Mahmoud Ramzi

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – The head of the Palestinian resistance group Hamas in Gaza said Monday there is "a real chance to make progress” on a prisoner swap with Israel.

Following his meeting with Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar said his movement is ready to engage in serious talks to achieve the swap.

In April 2016, Hamas said it had taken four Israeli soldiers captive. It withheld their identities except for Oron Shaul, an Israeli soldier missing since the 2014 Israeli offensive on Gaza.

Kamel arrived in the Gaza Strip early Monday for talks with Hamas leaders on the recent cease-fire with Israel, the reconstruction of Gaza and the prisoner swap.

According to Khalil al-Hayya, the deputy leader of Hamas in Gaza, the talks with Kamel dwelt on building a strategic partnership with Egypt.

Al-Hayya stressed that his movement firmly rejects linking the prisoner swap issue with any issue related to the cease-fire and reconstruction of Gaza.

On Sunday, Kamel met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and they discussed the Gaza cease-fire and reconstruction of the Palestinian territory. The visit came as Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi visited Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials.

An Egyptian-brokered truce that took effect in the early hours of May 21 ended Israel’s 11-day bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli attacks in Gaza and the West Bank killed at least 289 people, including women and children, and left behind a trail of destruction. Health centers and media offices as well as schools were among the structures targeted.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara