Pandemic Covid-19 forced Israel and the Hamas movement to negotiate prisoner exchanges. Middle East sources said the crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic forced Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Islamic Hamas movement to negotiate prisoner exchange. This is also the first negotiation between the two sides in nearly a decade.

Hamas movement
Hamas movement. Photo: France24

In early April, Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinouar expressed concern about the risk of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection among thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

In this context, Mr. Sinouar announced his readiness to negotiate an agreement with Israel to release the elderly and sick prisoners. A Palestinian official confirmed to the AFP news agency that negotiations are ongoing but have yet to come to any agreement.

Israel has no official comment on this information. However, according to Eugene Kontorovich, co-director of the Kohelet Policy Forum, a research center in Jerusalem, due to the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic , the talks are being pushed on schedule. Israel wants to quickly reduce the load on prisons.

The last prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas was in 2011 when Israeli soldiers Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas in 2006, was released in exchange for about 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Israel and Hamas have been fighting for three wars since 2008. The ceasefire, achieved last year under the mediation of the United Nations, Egypt and Qatar, is considered fragile. Therefore, if Israel and Hamas can reach an agreement to exchange prisoners, this could be the basis for a broader, long-term security agreement between the two sides.

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