Hamas says ‘currently no chance’ of prisoner exchange with Israel

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Palestinian group Hamas is not open to negotiating a prisoner exchange with Israel during hostilities, a member of the militants’ political office in Doha said Monday.

“The military operation is still continuing... therefore there is currently no chance for negotiation on the issue of prisoners or anything else,” Hossam Badran, a Hamas official, told AFP from Doha.

“Our mission now is to make every effort to prevent the occupation from continuing to commit massacres against our people in Gaza, which directly target civilian homes,” he added.

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Israel has said it is working to free at least 100 people kidnapped as Hamas militants stormed the Gaza border on Saturday, shooting people in nearby communities and towns.

More than 700 people have been killed in Israel since the surprise offensive.

On the Gaza side, at least 560 people have been killed after Israel launched airstrikes on the Palestinian enclave in response.

Qatar has hosted a political office for Hamas for over a decade and has been one of the group’s principle backers.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh issued a video message from Qatar on Saturday, broadcast on the militants’ Al-Aqsa television channel, saying his group was on the “verge of a great victory” and demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners.

On Sunday, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani held a call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying Qatar was “making all its diplomatic efforts with various concerned parties” in a bid to de-escalate the conflict.

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