Senior Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayya said in a November 8, 2021 interview on Al-Jazeera Network (Qatar) that Hamas holds four Israelis, and that Hamas would be willing to trade each of them for the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. He explained that this is the "natural" baseline for prisoner swaps, established in the 2011 release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. He said: "If the occupation pays the price, we are ready to sign [a deal] tomorrow morning. Otherwise, they will not see the light of day." Al-Hayya confirmed that at least two of the Israeli captives are soldiers, and declined to state whether the four Israelis are alive or not. Later in the interview, Al-Hayya said that Hamas is proud and open about its relationship with Iran, which he said supports Hamas militarily, politically, materially, and otherwise. Referring to the Iranians as "brothers," he said that Hamas does not concern itself with Iran's affairs in Iraq or elsewhere.
Khalil Al-Hayya: "When [Gilad] Shalit was set free, the occupation released 1,024 prisoners. So this is what we call the natural threshold in exchange for every Zionist prisoner held by the resistance."
Interviewer: "So you want to liberate at least 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held by the occupation?"
Al-Hayya: "In exchange for every Israeli soldier held by us... There are negotiations, by the way. These are negotiations over the Israeli soldiers held by the resistance. If the occupation pays the price, we are ready to sign [the deal] tomorrow morning. Otherwise, they will not see the light of day, until..."
Interviewer: "You are holding two Israeli soldiers and two civilians."
Al-Hayya: "The resistance holds four of them. Yes."
Interviewer: "Are they soldiers or civilians?"
Al-Hayya: "Two are soldiers."
Interviewer: "Soldiers? I meant..."
Al-Hayya: "They were captured during battle. The other two are, undoubtedly, Israelis, and the occupation can classify them whichever way it wants, but they are also soldiers in the Israeli occupation army."
Interviewer: "Are all four alive?"
Al-Hayya: "We don’t talk about this. We leave it to the negotiations.
"We are proud of our relationship with Iran and do not hide it. We talk about it openly. We have done so in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Our relations with our brothers in Iran have never been severed.
"Whoever supports us in any way in our battle for Jerusalem – we welcome them, appreciate them, and tip our hats to them.
"Iran provides Hamas with all types of support."
Interviewer: "All types of support?"
Al-Hayya: "Yes, everything. Political support, material support, moral support... You name it.
Interviewer: "And military support."
Al-Hayya: "Of course, military support."
Interviewer: "What do you think about those who claim that Iran uses Jerusalem, Palestine, and Hamas to whitewash its actions in countries like Iraq?"
Al-Hayya: "Look, many countries have many issues here and there. As Palestinians, if we start looking at countries' relations and issues here and there, we will see that a certain country has relations with India, another with China, and a third in Kashmir, or elsewhere... We would be unable to move forward like this. We let these countries and entities take care of their own affairs, and appreciate any help in our confrontation with the occupation. Iran and any other country that supports us have not imposed any condition upon us."
Interviewer: "They have not imposed any condition upon you?"
Al-Hayya: "None. Not in the past and not right now. This is not true but still, I wish that anyone who faces criticism over some action would whitewash their image through Palestine."