Report: Israel, Hamas Closing on Prisoner Deal in Light of Coronavirus

YERUSHALAYIM -
Hamas members stand guard outside a mural depicting a prison cell holding Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin, Hy”d, captive in Gaza City, in 2015. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)

Israel and Hamas have made progress in negotiations over a prisoner swap deal in light of the coronavirus pandemic crisis, Arab media reported on Sunday.

Hamas is believed to hold captive two Israeli citizens, Avera Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, as well as the remains of IDF troops Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, Hy”d.

According to reports, the breakthrough in talks ensued due to the spread of coronavirus in the Gaza Strip, and the authorities’ growing fears that the situation could get out of hand without further external aid.

The parents of deceased Lt. Hadar Goldin, Hy”d, welcomed the “humanitarian deal with Gaza in the fight against coronavirus, under which Hadar and Oron will return home,” Channel 12 reported.

The parents wrote: “We hope that IDF Chief-of-Staff [Aviv] Kochavi preserved two vaccines for Hadar and Oron while preferring vaccines for Israeli soldiers before he transfers vaccines to the Hamas.”

The Goldin family have been highly critical of the Israeli government, following their son’s death in combat during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, insisting the government could pressure Hamas into releasing their son’s remains.

During a visit to Beirut, Lebanon, in September, the Islamist terrorist group’s senior political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, told reporters that Egypt is intermediating talks that include a prisoner swap deal.