Hamas denies progress on prisoner exchange deal with Israel

GAZA, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement of Hamas said on Sunday that there has been no progress toward reaching a prisoner exchange deal with Israel.

Zaher Jabarin, a member of Hamas's politburo, said in a press statement sent to Xinhua that "until now, there is no progress because the Israeli side is not taking any serious steps" regarding the issue.

Jabarin was responding to Israeli Labor Party lawmaker Emilie Haya Moatti's remark that indirect negotiations between the Hamas and Israel for a prisoner exchange deal have witnessed progress.

Moatti, a Knesset member, did not provide further details, calling it a sensitive and confidential issue, according to Israel Radio.

Jabarin said that such remarks are made from time to time to prevent the families of the captive Israeli soldiers from moving to pressure their government.

Supporters of the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas shout slogans during a public rally marking 10 years since an Israeli air strike killed Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin on March 23, 2014 in Gaza City. (Photo: AFP)

He noted that there is "a state of anger" in Israel due to the lack of intention to resolve this issue, adding that "one of the most important officials responsible for the issue of the captive soldiers, Moshe Tal, resigned because of this."

In April 2016, Hamas' armed wing al-Qassam Brigades announced that it held four Israeli captives without saying anything about their fate.

In 2011, Egypt brokered a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas, under which Israel released more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.