Hamas’ leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, said Saturday that the Palestinian militant group was ready for an “immediate” prisoner swap with Israel.
“We are ready to conduct an immediate prisoner exchange deal that includes the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for all prisoners held by the Palestinian resistance,” Sinwar said in a statement.
Earlier on Saturday, Hamas’ armed wing said it was ready to release the hostages it abducted during its shock attack on October 7 if Israel freed all Palestinians held in its prisons.
“The price to pay for the large number of enemy hostages in our hands is to empty the (Israeli) prisons of all Palestinian prisoners,” Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida said in a statement broadcast by the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa television channel.
“If the enemy wants to close this file of detainees in one go, we are ready for it. If it wants to do it step-by-step, we are ready for that too.”
Some 229 hostages are being held by militants in the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli army.
On Thursday, Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said “almost 50” hostages had been killed in Israeli bombing raids in the three weeks since the war began. AFP was not immediately able to verify the figure.
Israel has been building up to a ground invasion since Hamas fighters stormed across the border on October 7, seizing hostages and killing more than 1,400 people, mainly civilians, Israeli officials say.
More than 7,700 people have been killed in retaliatory Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip, including about 3,500 children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.