Occupied Palestine (QNN)- The occupation state on Wednesday linked allowing any coronavirus assistance into the Gaza Strip to progress in its attempt to recover two Israeli soldiers captured during the 2014 Israeli war on the Palestinian enclave, according to Reuters.
Gaza’s health-care system is near collapse after several wars and 13 years of siege, which have stymied any potential for long-term economic development.
The territory’s health ministry has repeatedly warned that it is ill-equipped to combat the spread of the disease owing to acute shortages of medicines, laboratory supplies and other equipment used to carry out coronavirus examinations.
The Palestinian government has closed the Gaza border to non-essential traffic as a precaution against the spread of the infection.
“The moment there is talk of the humanitarian world in Gaza – Israel also has humanitarian needs, which are mainly the recovery of the fallen,” Defence Minister Naftali Bennett claimed, referring to the Israeli occupying soldiers, who were captured by the resistance during the Israeli 2014 aggression.
“And I think that we need to enter a broad dialogue about Gaza’s and our humanitarian needs. It would not be right to disconnect these things … and certainly, our hearts would be open to many things.”
Hamas said returning the two soldiers – as well as two Israeli civilians who crossed into the territory – would require negotiating a prisoner swap and would not be done in exchange for humanitarian aid.
“Israel bears responsibility for any consequences should the disease spread in Gaza because it has been blockading it for 13 years,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.
“A prisoner swap deal is a separate track,” he said.
The Head of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar, replied to the Israeli threats saying “we will take what we need against their wishes”.
“We don’t need anything from the occupation”, Sinwar added. “In Gaza, we have sharp minds and wills and we will not need Neftali Bennett.”
Sinwar added that “the moment we find ourselves in need for ventilators, we will let 6 million Israeli settlers suffer.”