The Hamas interior minister says that a prisoner exchange with Israel is likely to take place this month as a German mediator is in Gaza City to deliver Israel’s final response to Hamas’ demands over the impending deal.
“We hope, and we are endeavoring to complete the deal on December 14, which commemorates the 22nd anniversary of Hamas. It will also be close to the first anniversary of the Israeli war against the Gaza Strip on December 27. The two anniversaries will mark a holiday for liberating prisoners,” Fathi Hammad said.
Israel would likely release 980 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Hamas more than three years ago, the Israeli State Prosecution said.
The Israeli government is likely to free the 450 prisoners that Hamas has asked for in exchange for Shalit, as well as an additional 530 prisoners as a gesture to the Palestinians.
The decision was made by the Israeli High Court of Justice in response to a petition filed by the Amagor Israeli group and three bereaved families against the prisoner swap deal.
The bereaved families wanted the court to reveal why the criteria for the prisoner release was not made public and why there is military censorship on information that should be available to the public.
Gilad Shalit has been a prisoner of war since he was captured by Hamas fighters on June 25, 2006 near the Israel-Gaza border.
Over 11,500 Palestinians, including women and children, are currently imprisoned in Israeli detention facilities under harsh and life-threatening conditions.