Top Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh warned on Sunday that the militant faction will kidnap Israelis if a prisoner exchange between the parties was to hit a dead end.
“The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades are holding four prisoners inside Gaza, and if Israel is not convinced to reach a deal, Hamas and the al-Qassam battalions will force them” by kidnapping others, official Hamas media announced.
Hamas is believed to be holding two living Israelis — Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed — captive, in addition to the remains of two Israeli soldiers — Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.
Haniyeh also reiterated that Hamas wants the swap to include the six prisoners who escaped from the maximum-security Gilboa Prison in September before being recaptured.
Tensions are high between Israel and Gaza following a Saturday strike from the territory, in which two Hamas rockets landed fell off the coast of central Israel.
No casualties were reported, and a Hamas official said that the incident was the result of an electrical malfunction, according to The Washington Post.
Israel’s armed forces released a subsequent statement disputing the militant group’s excuse, arguing that “Hamas is responsible and bears the consequences for all activity in and emanating from the Gaza Strip.”
Following the launch, Israel’s military responded by striking a number of Hamas targets in Gaza.
Republished with permission from i24NEWS.