A senior Hamas official said Friday there could be no new exchange talks with Israel until it frees dozens of terrorist prisoners it has rearrested since their release in a 2011 swap.
Ismail Haniyeh, a former prime minister of the Hamas terror government, said Israel had re-arrested at least 54 of the more than 1,000 terrorists freed in exchange for soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured in a cross-border raid by Gaza terrorists in 2006.
"We have told all the mediators who have mobilized to discuss a new exchange that there won't be any negotiations before the release of all those Israel detained from among the Shalit deal group," he said in a speech marking the Eid al-Fitr holiday. "There will be no talks without their unconditional release."
Haniyeh did not elaborate on what new exchange was being mooted.
Hamas has long acknowledged holding body parts of two Israeli soldiers killed during last summer's conflict in Gaza, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul. Likewise it is currently holding two Israeli civilians captive in Gaza.
Hamas and Israeli sources have reported informal, indirect contacts on the possibility of a long-term truce between them, to cement an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that ended the Gaza conflict last August.
Last Thursday, the Israeli defense ministry said that Avraham Mengistu, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent, had been held by Hamas since crossing into Gaza last September apparently due to a mental illness he suffers from. It said an Israeli Arab is also being held, although it has given no details of his case.
All of those rearrested since the Shalit exchange were implicated in fresh security offenses committed after their release.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon stated this week that a prisoner swap would not be arranged with Hamas, but that Israel would do everything in its power to free the captives.