Hamas Nixing Israeli Offer of Pandemic Aid in Return for Releases
Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar (Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Hamas Nixing Israeli Offer of Pandemic Aid in Return for Releases

Hamas, the Islamic ruler of the Gaza Strip, is so far turning down a proposal by Israel for coronavirus assistance in return for the repatriation of two Israeli citizens and the remains of two others. For months, the sides have been involved in mediated efforts toward a long-term cease fire following years of clashes and retaliatory strikes. Hamas is seeking an end to a more-than decade-long blockade of the Palestinian territory, and Israel wants the return of two citizens being held after wandering into the enclave several years ago, and the bodies or body parts of two soldiers who went missing in 2014 fighting and are presumed dead. The Islamist group is demanding a prisoner swap in return for the live and dead Israelis rather than pandemic assistance. “A prisoner swap will exact a high price,” Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar told the group’s television statement last week, adding that in return for women, elderly and infirm prisoners being held by Israel, “we may offer something partial in return.”

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