Operation "Al-Aqsa Flood" deserves to be called a war, as its features and results exceed what confrontations between the Arab armies and Israel have achieved, and their repercussions will last for a period of time, but in this article we stand to look for one impact that can result from this process and ask: Is there an upcoming deal for the exchange of prisoners?

According to available information, there is a significant quantitative and qualitative difference in the number of Israeli prisoners in the hands of Palestinian resistance elements, this time in the dozens, and Palestinians say that they include most of the officers of the Southern Command in Israel and the commander of the Gaza Division in the Israeli army, in addition to a number of civilians.

It is certain that after securing the places of detention of these prisoners, it will be necessary during or after the ceasefire agreement that Israel seeks to agree on the process of returning the Zionist prisoners, while the resistance will seek to exchange them for its prisoners, and one of the leaders of the resistance declared that what they have of Israeli prisoners "guarantees the liberation of every prisoner in the prisons of the occupation."

If we are looking forward to what the future might come out of here, it is worthwhile to look back on past deals.

History of prisoner exchange deals

The number of prisoner exchange deals between Arabs and Israel since 1948 until today is 38, some mediated by the International Red Cross, some mediated by Germany, some by Egypt, and some by direct negotiations without an intermediary, as in the case of Israeli prisoners in Jordan and Egypt.

The largest prisoner exchange deals took place in the aftermath of the major wars between the Arabs and Israel, specifically after the wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973, where Israel captured thousands of military and civilians in those wars and exchanged them for prisoners held by Arab countries or the bodies of their dead.

During the last two decades, only Palestinians and Lebanese were the focus of prisoner exchange deals, in light of the confrontations that rage every period between Israel and Hezbollah or between them and Palestinian resistance groups, but the deals that took place before these two decades included prisoners or bodies of Egyptians, Jordanians and Syrians in addition to the Palestinians, and in the aftermath of the 1948 war, the list of Arab prisoners freed - within the framework of exchange deals - included soldiers from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Sudan as well.

The first deal between the PLO and Israel was in 1968, after a wave of hijacking Israeli planes that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) began with the hijacking of a plane to Algeria, followed by a second operation in 1969, and then several operations in 1970, each time a negotiation process ended with the release of a number of Arab prisoners and prisoners in occupation prisons.

There are long-standing exchanges that have not yet taken place, the oldest of which is the Israeli claim for the body of the Israeli spy of Egyptian origin, Eli Cohen, who was executed in Damascus in 1968, and the most recent of which are the prisoners held by Hamas since 2014, namely Shaul Aron, who was captured in July of that year in an operation in which 14 Israeli soldiers were killed, and Hadar Golden, who was captured in August of the same year, a relative of former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon.

In addition to the former prisoners are Avera Mengistu, an Ethiopian Jew who crossed the separation fence into the northern Gaza Strip in September 2014, and finally Hisham al-Sayed, a Negev Arab with Israeli citizenship.

The Qassam Brigades said in a press statement in July 2019 that Israel for racist reasons never demanded the return of Ethiopian Mengistu during negotiations to exchange the rest of the prisoners.

The Arab side did not skimp on including in the exchange deals people who are not Arabs, and Israel did so as well, for example, in 2004, Hezbollah recovered a German prisoner who had collaborated with it, as part of an exchange deal concluded that year, and before that, in 1985, Israel stipulated in one of the exchange deals the release of 39 American hostages held by the Islamic Jihad in Lebanon.

Israeli spies were also involved in these deals, for example the release of Azzam Azzam, an Arab-Israeli spy imprisoned in Egypt, was the focus of a 2004 deal.

Israel took back a number of Mossad agents detained in Jordan in 1997 in exchange for the rescue of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who was poisoned in Jordan, and the release of the movement's founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, from Israeli prisons.

One of the oddities of the deals is that before 2009, Israel released 20 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a Hamas video proving that soldier Gilad Shalit was still alive with it.

What can a new deal include?

The question now is: What will the Palestinians do after the large number of prisoners they detained as part of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, in addition to the four former prisoners held before the operation?

The first condition, according to expectations, will be the emptying of Israeli prisons of all Arab prisoners, regardless of their nationality or religion, and it is estimated that there are about 6,<> prisoners inside the occupation prisons, and a condition of this kind will undoubtedly increase Arab and Palestinian popular support for resistance movements.

It would not be surprising – with so many prisoners – that the Palestinian factions condition the reconstruction of Gaza and the lifting of the siege or easing its restrictions, as this city is the most crowded in the world, and its residents live in the worst economic and humanitarian conditions due to the siege imposed on it for more than a decade and because of the successive Israeli raids on its homes and civilians, and such a step would raise the popularity of the resistance factions among the Palestinians inside Israel, who Israel has long said are the cause of the deteriorating conditions of the Palestinians.

We also believe that the Palestinian side will not skimp on insisting on the return of many Palestinian refugees recently expelled by Israel, and may also condition the return of Jerusalemites to their homes, dozens of which were demolished by the current right-wing government as part of the city's Judaization plan that has been ongoing since 1967.