A senior Hamas official says the Islamist militants are ready to release all the Israeli soldiers it is holding captive in exchange for all Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.
Hamas official and former Gaza health minister Bassem Naim said the group was going through “hard negotiations” even after it agreed to continue it’s truce on Thursday after a six-day pause in fighting.
“We are ready to release all soldiers in exchange for all our prisoners,” Naim told a press conference in Cape Town, during a visit to South Africa.
Gaza militants took about 240 captives from southern Israel in an unprecedented October 7 attack that Israeli officials say killed around 1,200 people, most of them civilians.
In response, Israel has unleashed an air and ground campaign that the Hamas government says has killed nearly 15,000 people, also mostly civilians.
Sixty Israeli hostages and 180 Palestinian prisoners have been released under the truce agreement so far following mediation by Qatar, with the US and Egypt also playing support roles.
Among the hostages still held by Hamas are soldiers who are excluded from the exchange agreement, and the Islamist movement might use them as an important bargaining chip.
Activist groups say there are more than 7,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails, many of them far more prominent than the youngsters and women freed so far.
In 2011, more than 1,000 Palestinians were exchanged for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been taken prisoner by Hamas five years earlier.