Hamas chief: all Israeli hostages for all Palestinian prisoners

Sinwar’s first statement since onset of war dismissed by IDF spokesperson as ‘psychological terror cynically used by Hamas to create pressure’
Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar said Saturday evening that his terrorist group was ready to immediately release all the Israeli hostages it holds in exchange for the release of "all our prisoners held in your prisons."
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"We are ready to immediately conclude a prisoner exchange deal that involves releasing all our prisoners held in your prisons in exchange for freeing all captives held by the resistance," he said.
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ציון 35 שנים להקמת ארגון הטרור חמאס בעזה
ציון 35 שנים להקמת ארגון הטרור חמאס בעזה
Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar
(Photo: AFP)
Sinwar's statement echoed comments made by the spokesperson of the terrorist group's military wing, Abu Obaida, several hours earlier.
This is his first public statement since the outbreak of the war on October 7 with the deadly attack on southern Israel communities, during which some 230 people were abducted to the Gaza Strip, according to estimates.
Only four captives have been returned so far, Judith Ra'anan and her daughter Natalie, and Yocheved Lifshitz and Nurit Cooper.
Dozens of the hostages are held by Islamic Jihad, a smaller Islamist faction fighting alongside Hamas, while the rest are held by the Gaza-ruling terrorist group. In his statement, Sinwar referred to all the prisoners held "by the resistance", implying that he's also addressing those held by Islamic Jihad.
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יוכבד ליפשיץ ונורית קופר החטופות ששוחררו
יוכבד ליפשיץ ונורית קופר החטופות ששוחררו
Hostages Yocheved Lifshitz and Nurit Cooper released by Hamas
IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari responded to Sinwar's statement, casting the Hamas leader’s statement as "psychological terror cynically used by Hamas to create pressure."
According to Haari, "Nothing is on the table regarding the abductees," adding that "Sinwar can't issue statements; he speaks through intermediaries. Hamas doesn't communicate directly with Israel, and we will continue all efforts - both civilian and intelligence-based - to retrieve the hostages."
Sinwar's announcement comes amid concerns from the families of the hostages that an escalation in warfare and expansion of the ground operation might jeopardize the chances of retrieving them safely.
Meanwhile, a senior Israeli official addressed the possibility of a prisoner exchange deal, saying, "Hamas doesn't want a deal. Don't believe what they say. They want to drag things out to delay the ground operation. That's why we decided to expand the operation. This was a unanimous decision by the entire Cabinet."
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יהודית ו נטלי רענן שהשתחררו משבי חמאס ב עזה מדברות בטלפון עם נשיא ארה"ב ג'ו ביידן
יהודית ו נטלי רענן שהשתחררו משבי חמאס ב עזה מדברות בטלפון עם נשיא ארה"ב ג'ו ביידן
Released hostages Natalie and Judith Raanan on the phone with US President Joe Biden
(Photo: U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem)
According to the official, "The working assumption is that only when Hamas feels the sword at its throat will it be willing to compromise and agree to a deal. They understand that Israel has red lines, and there's no chance Israel will empty all its prisons; that won't happen. We realize there are prices we may have to pay, but we won't fall apart. The families of the hostages understand that a decisive moment is approaching. We need to reach a point where a deal is on the table, and the next step would be to approve it."
The official indicated that Sinwar's statement clarified Hamas's intent: a full exchange of everyone for everyone. This means that they are pressuring Israel to release all of Hamas's terrorists, and it's doubtful Israel would agree to such a demand.
Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the hostage issue during a joint press conference with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Minister Benny Gantz. When asked about the possibility of releasing all security prisoners in exchange for the release of all hostages, Netanyahu responded that the matter had been discussed in the Cabinet, but he preferred not to elaborate further.
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