13:13 GMT23 September 2020
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    A former Tel Aviv prisoner exchange coordinator, Lior Lotan, has called for holding 200 enemy soldiers as ransom every time an Israeli soldier is captured by militant groups, according to alleged recordings taped months ago and broadcast on Army Radio on Monday.

    “If the enemy is holding one of our soldiers, a war should end with Israel holding 200 of theirs. If it’s two then we should hold 400, if it’s three of ours then it should be 600 of theirs,” resigned Col. Lior Lotan said in the recordings.

    The colonel was heard bemoaning Israel’s “weakness” in bargaining with Hamas over missing Israeli soldiers.

    The purpose of coordinating such a ransom, according to Lotan, would be to discourage terror groups against holding Israelis captive and so that Israel could “fill its wallet.”

    The comments widely point to the held beliefs in the military that captive Palestinians should be used as bargaining chips to bring home the bodies of Israeli servicemen and women, Haaretz reported on Monday.

    It was further reported that Israel regularly negotiates with Hamas and Hezbollah on exchanging prisoners and bodies.

    Officially, Israel denies "trading" dead bodies, but Lotan appears to have confirmed the practice in the recording.

    He had addressed that practice in the past, saying that such conduct has become the norm. 

    “After every conflict between fighting forces, the sides exchange prisoners and bodies. That is the norm. Israel and Hezbollah did it too before the Second Lebanon War and afterwards too,” Haaretz reported Lotan as saying.

    According to some sources Lotan resigned last Thursday frustrated by deadlocked negotiations with Hamas and because he was given so little room to maneuver.

    On Sunday Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman stated that Israel would not repeat the “mistake” of releasing Palestinian prisoners in exchange for any Israelis held in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, dead or alive.

    Liberman added that before replacing Lotan it was vital to “draw clear borders for the State of Israel and its emissaries and to especially stand firm against our enemies and make it clear to them that we have no intention of compromising on the security of the people of Israel,” the Jerusalem Post reported.


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