Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett suggested Wednesday that Israel will condition any assistance to the besieged Gaza Strip, in its desperate fight against the Coronavirus, on the release of the bodies of two Israeli soldiers.
Besieged and war-stricken Gaza is struggling to cope with the full out of the COVID-19 disease, which is caused by the Coronavirus. Twelve people have already been reported to have the Coronavirus. However, health experts say the number could be much higher, especially since Gaza’s healthcare system, which is on the verge of collapse, is unequipped to diagnose or to care for COVID-19 patients.
“The moment there is talk of the humanitarian world in Gaza – Israel also has humanitarian needs, which are mainly the recovery of the fallen,” Bennett told reporters, according to the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz.
The hawkish, ultranationalist Defense Minister was referring to an Israeli claim that two Israeli soldiers were killed and buried in Gaza during Israel’s war on the besieged Strip in 2014.
Over 2,200 Palestinians were killed and over 11,000 wounded during the Israeli war, dubbed by Tel Aviv as ‘Protective Edge’.
“I think that we need to enter a broad dialogue about Gaza’s and our humanitarian needs,” Bennett added. “It would not be right to disconnect these things … and certainly, our hearts would be open to many things.”
Haaretz reported that “it was not immediately clear if Bennett was speaking of a possible condition on Israel providing direct aid, or also on it enabling the transfer of other aid over its border with Gaza.”
Gaza, with a population of 2 million, has been under a hermetic Israeli siege since 2006, when the Palestinian group Hamas won the democratic legislative elections in occupied Palestine. Since then, Israel has carried out numerous bombing campaigns and several major wars that resulted in the death of thousands of people.
Without outside assistance, Gaza hospitals, with just 96 ventilators, are not prepared to cope with a massive Coronavirus outbreak.
Source: The Palestine Chronicle