Israel seeks negotiations with Hamas for release of four citizens held in Gaza

April 8, 2020 by JNS
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Israel is calling for negotiations over the return of four Israelis being held in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip after Hamas leaders said they could be willing to make a deal.

Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas stand at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on March 15, 2020. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement on Tuesday that the national security team “stands ready to take constructive action with the goal of returning the fallen and the missing, and of ending the affair, and are calling for an immediate dialogue via mediators,” according to a Reuters report.

Last week, Israel said that any aid to Gaza for battling the coronavirus (COVID-19) would be based on progress in recovering two soldiers who went missing during the 2014 war and two civilians who separately got captured there.

Yahya Sinwar, Hamas chief in Gaza, has rejected linking coronavirus aid to talks but said he saw “a possible initiative to revive this issue” if Israel frees Palestinian prisoners.

“A prisoner swap will exact a big price” from Israel, he told Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV, according to the report.

He added that if Israel would begin by releasing prisoners that were sick, old and female, “we may offer something partial in return.”


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