Hamas denies prisoner swap talks with Israel

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Palestinian group Hamas on Wednesday denied reports about negotiations for a prisoner swap deal with Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier said on Wednesday his government was doing “diplomatic and covert” efforts to retrieve Israelis held in the Gaza Strip since 2014.

This came in a statement issued by Netanyahu’s office following a meeting between the prime minister and the family of an Israeli national Tel Aviv says is held in Gaza.

In a statement, Hamas described Netanyahu’s statement as a “mere fabrication and lies to cover up his failure in managing this issue”.

Last year, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's armed wing, said it had received an Israeli offer for a prisoner swap.

Israel says two soldiers and two civilians are held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip since 2014 when Israel launched a deadly offensive against the Palestinian territory.

Hamas has declined to confirm the Israeli claim, but the Palestinian group demands the release of dozens of Palestinian prisoners whom Israel re-arrested after their release as part of an Egyptian-brokered exchange deal to free captured soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.

According to Palestinian figures, some 6,500 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli prisons, including dozens of women and scores of minors.

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