Hamas demands release of 500 lifers serving time in Israeli prisons

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The Palestinian group Hamas wants 500 of its supporters who are serving long or life sentences in Israeli prisons to be released first in any potential hostage deal.

Hamas’ demands came in response to the Paris initiative presented to the movement – proposals for resolving the situation in the Gaza Strip, formulated at a meeting between representatives of Egypt, Qatar, the United States and Israel.

At the first stage of the agreements, Hamas “will release all detained women, teenagers under the age of 19 who were not conscripts, the elderly and the sick,” the group said in its response, transmitted to mediators, as quoted by the Al Manar TV channel. In exchange, the radicals demand “the release of all women, teenagers, the elderly (over 50 years old) and sick people imprisoned in Israeli prisons who were arrested before the date of [the entry into force] of the agreement.” Moreover, as indicated in the Hamas response, “in addition [to the listed categories], 1.5 thousand Palestinian prisoners should be released, 500 of whom are serving long sentences or sentenced to life.”

Hamas also insists on legal guarantees that the Palestinians will not be re-arrested on the same charges.

Earlier, Hamas announced its consent to a deal on the exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners, without insisting at the first stage on the release of its supporters with long prison terms.Tensions flared up in the Middle East after the infiltration of Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory on October 7, 2023, accompanied by the killing of residents of border settlements and the taking of hostages. Israel began to conduct retaliatory strikes against the Palestinian enclave as well as certain areas of Lebanon and Syria. On December 1, the Israeli army accused Hamas of violating the truce in force since November 24 and announced that it was resuming hostilities in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian authorities have blamed the United States for the resumption of Israeli aggression.

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