Hamas: Israel to Free 10 Women ‘in Weeks’

A Hamas leader said Wednesday that more female detainees in Israeli prisons would be released as part of an exchange deal initiated last month.

Saleh Arouri told the Hamas-affiliated Risala newspaper in Gaza that the release of the 10 detainees would be finalized in the next two weeks. He added that the talks regarding the deal were nearly over.

Egyptian efforts are underway to secure the detainees’ release, he said.

There was no immediate reaction from the Israeli government.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said last month that Egypt had assured the movement that nine female prisoners remaining in Israeli jail would be released in the deal.

Some 27 women were freed in the first stage of an Egypt-brokered prisoner swap freeing captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinians jailed in Israel.

Hamas has said the agreement with Israel includes the release of all female prisoners.

In the second phase of the agreement, Israel will release 550 further prisoners in two months, a process Hamas officials say has been guaranteed by Egypt.

But Barhoum said that the women still in jail would be freed before then. Aruri, the Hamas leader responsible for the prisoner exchange negotiations, has previously confirmed this point.

After Shalit was seized in 2006, Israel tightened its blockade on Gaza, and several rounds of negotiations collapsed between the sides over the identities and number of prisoners to be exchanged.

According to recent estimates from the Palestinian Authority and prisoners groups, there were around 6,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails prior to the swap, including 36 women.

(Maan News)

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