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Lieberman — Gaza aid contingent upon release of Israelis

By Anadolu Agency - Jul 10,2018 - Last updated at Jul 10,2018

JERUSALEM — Any easing of the Gaza Strip’s humanitarian situation will depend on first resolving the issue of captured Israelis allegedly held by Gaza-based resistance groups, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Today on Monday. 

Israel claims that Palestinian resistance group Hamas has been holding four Israelis — two soldiers and two civilians — in the Gaza Strip since 2014, when Israel carried out a devastating military onslaught on Gaza. 

While Hamas has confirmed it is holding four captured Israelis, it has declined to provide any information — in line with its longstanding policy of “strategic ambiguity” — as to whether the captives are dead or alive.

Hamas, meanwhile, demands the release of dozens of Palestinians who Israel re-arrested after having freed them earlier as part of an Egypt-brokered exchange deal in 2011 in which Gilad Shalit — an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in 2006 — was also released. 

Israel Today also quoted an unnamed military official as suggesting that “a large humanitarian aid package” could soon be presented to the people of Gaza “provided the issue of missing persons is resolved”.

The aid package, the official said, could include “the expansion of the fishing zone off the Gaza coast, the allowance of prohibited materials [into Gaza], and investment in infrastructure projects — in Gaza’s electricity and water-purification sectors — in line with earlier proposals by UN Envoy Nickolay Mladenov and US  President Donald Trump”. 

Late last month, Israeli media reported that Israel was advancing plans to build a floating dock in Greek Cypriot administration to receive goods bound for Gaza. 

The plan was reportedly agreed to in principle during talks between Lieberman and Nicos Anastasiades, head of the Greek Cypriot administration.

 The Gaza Strip has groaned under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its 2 million inhabitants of basic commodities.

Since March 30, more than 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli occupation force gunfire during ongoing rallies along the Gaza-Israel security fence to demand an end to Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestinian land and 11-year blockade of Gaza.

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