MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Israel was close to reaching a deal with Palestine to exchange jailed militants for the bodies of Israeli nationals before declining Hamas’ demands, the Hararetz reported Friday, citing an activist working on behalf of the Palestinian prisoners.
On July 9, Israel demanded the bodies of two soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, killed during last summer’s war, as well as the release of two Israelis, who disappeared in the Gaza Strip.
"There was a feeling that it was a matter of a few weeks, and there was great hope on the part of the prisoners and their families," the Haaretz newspaper reported Friday, citing the activist.
According to the source, in mid-May, the jailed Palestinians and their families received letters from top Hamas officials saying a swap deal was near and that the convicts would celebrate this weekend’s end of Ramadan at home.
Haaretz reported that despite last week’s refusal by Israeli officials to free the Palestinian prisoners, several Hamas prisoners withdrew their parole requests, stating that they expected to be released soon in any case.