According to reports that emergedÂ on July 9, IsraelÂ sent HamasÂ a new outline for a prisoner-exchange dealÂ through an intermediary. The Palestinian sources citedÂ argued that the Israeli proposal was meager, offering only the return of bodies of Palestinian assailants in exchange for the bodies of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, orÂ the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israel â€˜with no blood on their hands,â€™ meaning those who were not involved in the killing of Israeli nationals.
The Palestinian sources insisted that the new outline was not a serious offer but a test designed to manipulate, to lower expectations and lead toÂ deeper negotiations.
Israel did not react officially to this news, but according to the Israeli press, Hamas has made it clear that it will not negotiate any prisoner-exchange deal without the release of all of those prisoners who were released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal and then rearrested again by Israel. ItsÂ preconditions also includeÂ the release of all elderly and sick prisoners.
SeveralÂ of the Shalit deal prisoners were rearrested in 2014Â after the kidnapping and murderÂ of three youths in the West Bank Etzion settlement bloc. A few others were rearrested over the following years for involvement in terror attacks or other offenses.
Shaul and Goldin were killed in the summer of 2014Â during Operation Protective Edge. Since then, Israel has not ceased its efforts to retrieve their bodies. Jerusalem was and still isÂ hoping for a comprehensive deal that would also enable the return of two Israelis who crossed the border into Gaza separately in 2014 and 2015, Avram Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, both apparently held by Hamas and both apparently suffering from mental health issues.
On April 7, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuâ€™s office issued an unusual statementÂ reading that Coordinator for Captives and Missing PersonsÂ Yaron Blum and his team are â€œcommitted to acting constructively with the aim of bringing back the soldiersâ€™ bodies and missing civilians and putting an end to the issue.”Â The announcement then called â€œfor immediate dialogue between mediatorsâ€ to facilitate a deal with Hamas.
On July 2, NetanyahuÂ again referred publicly to the issue. In a recorded message forÂ theÂ annual commemoration of those lost during Protective Edge, Netanyahu said that Israel is still working to retrieve the bodies of soldiers killed in the Gaza Strip six years agoÂ and that his government would not miss â€œaÂ window of opportunityâ€ to bring them home.