Israel offers to release 800 Palestinian prisoners, including 100 murderers in hostage deal

Israel has offered to release between 700 to 800 Palestinian prisoners, including 100 criminals convicted of murder, in exchange for 40 hostages in Gaza, according to Israeli media outlets.

After bashing such an exchange as “unrealistic” a few weeks ago, the Jewish State offered up hundreds of incarcerated Palestinians in an effort to free Israeli women, children, elderly and sick who were taken captive by Hamas on Oct. 7, the Times of Israel reports.

Several outlets, including Channel 12, suggest at least 700 prisoners could be included in the exchange, including dozens who are serving life sentences for killing Israelis.

Israelis walk past a wall depicting the hostages in Gaza during the Purim holiday on Sunday. Getty Images

People walk past posters with pictures of hostages kidnapped in the deadly October 7 attack on Israel by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas from Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel March 24, 2024. REUTERS

Along with the exchange, Israel is also said to be willing to discuss allowing Palestinian refugees to return to the war-torn northern half of the Gaza Strip, according to the local outlets.

Despite the concessions , Israeli officials are reportedly ruling out any deal that calls for the complete withdrawal of the Israeli military from Gaza, one of Hamas’ key demands.

Demonstrators attend a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and call for the release of hostages kidnapped in the deadly October 7 attack on Israel by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas from Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel, March 23, 2024. REUTERS

Hamas is expected to take a few days to go over the deal before its delegation in Cairo and Gaza make a decision.

Israel’s agreement comes a day after US negotiators made a “bridging proposal” that was set to establish the ratio of prisoners-to-hostages freed as part of a temporary truce agreement with Hamas, according to an Israeli official briefed on the talks. 

November’s short-lived deal saw the ratio set at just three prisoners for every one hostage freed. All of the Palestinian prisoners freed were women and minors.   

It is unclear if the current proposal Israel set forth was the one suggested by the American negotiators.

The White House and the US Embassy in Israel have not immediately commented on the proposal. 

Discussing the prospects of an exchange deal, senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri claimed that any deal that the terror group accepts should include conditions for an end to the war. 

“What America and the Occupation (Israel) want is to regain the captives without a commitment to end the aggression, which means the resumption of war, killing and destruction, and we can’t accept that,” Abu Zuhri told Reuters. 

Israel has so far only expressed interest in a six-week truce that would allow the hostages to be freed and for more aid to reach Israel. 

Should the deal go through, about 90 hostages would still be left behind in Gaza as the war nears its sixth month.       

With Post wires

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