The head of Hamas in Gaza has threatened Israel, saying that if more ventilators for coronavirus patients are not brought into the Palestinian enclave then they will “take them by force.”
“If ventilators are not brought into [Gaza], we’ll take them by force from Israel and stop the breathing of six million Israelis,” Yahya Sinwar was quoted in the Israeli media as saying on Thursday.
He added that “we are prepared to make partial concessions on the return [of fallen IDF soldiers] in exchange for release by Israel of Palestinian prisoners who are old [or] sick as a humanitarian gesture in the coronavirus crisis.”
Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said Wednesday that humanitarian assistance to Gaza would be contingent on the return of two fallen Israeli soldiers in Hamas hands.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Palestinian population reportedly stands at 160. The low number may be attributed, however, to the relatively few tests for the disease which have been conducted. Only about 7,500 tests have been done.
A World Health Organization official warned earlier on Thursday that 80-90% of the ventilators in Gaza and the Palestinian areas in Yehudah and Shomron are already in use.