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Netanyahu Working to Return Israeli Captives from Hamas-ruled Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday night said that he was prepared to take “constructive action” to bring about the release of two Israelis captured by Hamas some five years ago after they reportedly entered the Gaza Strip on their own accord. Hamas has also refused to return the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed during an operation in the Palestinian enclave during the 2014 war. In a statement, Netanyahu called on international mediators, who for years have been attempting to forge a long-term cease-fire between the sides, to initiate an “immediate dialogue” with Hamas regarding the matter. The prime minister’s remarks followed an apparent overture last week by Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, who in a television interview expressed a willingness to “take advantage of this opportunity” caused by the coronavirus outbreak. “[If Israel] releases the ill [Palestinian] inmates, the elderly, the female prisoners… we might be able to provide something partial in return regarding this issue,” he said. Responding to Netanyahu, Hamas released a statement saying “the ball was now in [Israel’s] court to take practical steps” and that Gaza’s rulers would “reply responsibly.”