Palestinian media reports, citing Israeli sources, reported on Thursday that the Israeli government put forth a condition for shipping medical aid to the besieged Gaza Strip, for fighting the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Sources said that Israeli Defense Minister, Naftali Bennett, was quoted during a press briefing in Tel-Aviv, as saying that Israeli officials are considering sending some humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Bennett, however, conditioned this medical aid with the return of two Israeli soldiers who went missing in Gaza in 2014, when Israel carried out a large-scale offensive on the coastal enclave.
According to Reuters News Agency, Bennett stated that various levels of the Israeli government need to get involved in a thorough dialogue over ways to deliver humanitarian medical aid to Gaza, provided that such a dialogue takes into account ‘other inseparable matters’.
Bennett also added that his government will be unlikely to approve the release of Palestinian prisoners, in the near future.
The minister’s remarks came in the context of the spread of Coronavirus, across Israel, including Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Israel has been imposing a tight border closure on Gaza, since 2007. Being the occupying power, according to international law, Israel is responsible for the welfare of the population under it’s control.
Back in 2014, Israeli army carried out a large-scale offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip, causing the death of thousands of Palestinians, thousands of injuries, causing widespread devastation of infrastructure and Palestinian homes.
Since then, the ruling Islamist Hamas party in Gaza, have stated that two Israeli soldiers are being held inside Gaza, but have not yet revealed their location.
Spokesperson for the Islamist Hamas party, Hazem Qasem, on Wednesday night, was quoted as saying that ‘Israeli occupation, which continues to besiege the Gaza Strip, must be held responsible for any further spread of Coronavirus across the Gaza Strip’.
He added that the situation in Gaza is getting worse by the day, as the coronavirus pandemic has entered the territory.