Hamas is continuing to demand massive concessions from Israel as a precondition for even starting talks over two Israeli citizens held captive in Gaza.
In an interview Thursday with Turkish media, senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar reiterated conditions set by the terrorist group Thursday for opening talks over 26-year-old Avraham Mengistu and another as-yet unnamed Israeli civilian it is holding hostage, as well as the remains of two soldiers still held by Hamas since last year's Operation Protective Edge.
Chief among those conditions is the release of dozens of terrorists who were released from Israeli prisons under the 2011 prisoner swap to release IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, and were later rearrested after returning to terrorist activities.
More than 1,000 terrorists were released – many of them convicted murderers – in exchange for just one Israeli soldier in the lopsided Shalit Deal. Analysts warned that enormous price would merely encourage further kidnappings.
As part of the deal released terrorists had to sign a written guarantee they would not resume terrorist activity, and that if they did they would be rearrested and forced to serve the rest of their previous sentences.
Among the 71 rearrested Shalit Deal terrorists are a number serving life sentences.
Al-Zahar emphasized that Hamas would not issue any responses or open negotiations concerning the fate of the two kidnapped Israelis, and that the matter was "closed" until its conditions were met.
Mengistu – who has a history of mental illness – has been held by Hamas for 10 months, after reportedly crossing the border into Gaza, where he was immediately detained by terrorists.
However, details of his case were only revealed yesterday (Thursday), when a gag order was lifted after his family appealed.
Another Israel citizen – believed to be a Bedouin from the Arab town of Hura in the Negev – is also being held captive, although a gag order is still in place vis-a-vis his identity and the circumstances surrounding his capture.
Hamas is also holding the remains of IDF Sergeant Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin, who were killed during last summer's war with Gazan terrorists.