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Hamas rejects Israeli conditions to help Gaza confront coronavirus

16 5 19

In recent days, Hamas and Israel witnessed a clear row over providing medical assistance to the Gaza Strip to counter the coronavirus, as Israel stipulated the return of its soldiers captured in the 2014 war as a condition of providing medical assistance. The Israel media has been calling for Hamas to release the soldiers in order to receive help to combat the coronavirus.

As for Hamas, it announced that it will obtain these humanitarian needs by force, through its leader in Gaza, Yahya Al-Sinwar, who announced that “six million Israelis may have to stop breathing” if Israel is unwilling to supply the Gaza Strip with the necessary respirators for coronavirus patients.

Meanwhile, Al-Sinwar hinted that Hamas might make a concession regarding the exchange deal in return for allowing the entry of supplies to improve living conditions and medical assistance in Gaza, as well as releasing elderly, sick, children and female Palestinian prisoners. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by charging Yaron Bloom, Israeli coordinator of POWs and MIA Israeli prisoners, with initiating the necessary calls to resume prisoner exchange deal negotiations with Hamas.

This back and forth means that it is possible that Hamas and Israel will witness a round of military escalation, because the Palestinian factions are seeking to pressure Israel to agree to allow the entry of medical supplies and health assistance to Gaza, in order to fight the coronavirus. Rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza a few days ago, and this raises questions on how both sides will deal with any military escalation, or how they will reach an exchange deal. Will we witness an undesired military confrontation during this disastrous health situation in Gaza and Israel, or will negotiations finally take place to reach a new prisoner exchange deal between the two sides?

A few days ago, the Israeli army announced that it had bombed Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip, in response to a missile fired from it towards the Gaza envelope settlements. Thousands of Israelis rushed to take shelter, although it was the first escalation since the emergence of the coronavirus crisis in February, as Palestinians and Israelis are remaining in their homes to stop its spread.

Neither Palestinian faction has claimed responsibility for the rocket launch, but the Israeli bombing of Hamas positions was carried out because of Hamas’ control over Gaza. The Palestinian factions announced that Israel was taking advantage of the world’s preoccupation with confronting the coronavirus in order to intensify the Gaza blockade.


© Middle East Monitor