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Israel to demand captive troops in return for rebuilding of Gaza

We must condition development and reconstruction in Gaza on return of soldiers’ bodies, says Israeli defense chief

Said Amouri   | 22.05.2021
Israel to demand captive troops in return for rebuilding of Gaza

JERUSALEM 

Israel's Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip is conditional on reaching a settlement on the return of soldiers missing in the Palestinian territory.

“We must condition development and reconstruction [in Gaza] not only on a calm, but also on the return of soldiers’ bodies and civilians held hostage in Gaza," Gantz said in an interview with the Israeli KAN channel.

In April 2016, Palestinian resistance group Hamas said it had taken four Israeli soldiers captive while withholding their identities except for Oron Shaul, an Israeli soldier missing since the 2014 Israeli offensive on Gaza.

Gantz said that after the recent Israeli offensive in Gaza, there was now a chance to move forward with the issue of the missing Israeli soldiers.

The defense minister said Israel would change its policy towards Gaza, strictly retaliating against rocket fire or incendiary balloons from the seaside territory.

Gantz said senior Hamas leaders, including the head of the group's political wing in Gaza, Yehya Sinwar, and commander of the group's military wing Mohammad Deif were still assassination targets for Israel.

On Friday, an Egyptian brokered cease-fire between Palestinian resistance groups and Israel came into effect, putting an end to 11 days of fighting.

At least 279 Palestinians have been killed, including 69 children and 40 women, and 1,910 others injured in Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Twelve Israelis have also been killed by Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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