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Concerns over coronavirus in prisons push Israel-Hamas deal forward

With Hamas concerned about a coronavirus outbreak in Gaza and Israel concerned about overcrowding in its prisons, the pandemic offers a unique opportunity to reach a prisoner exchange deal.

Israel and Hamas seemed closer than ever these past few days to reaching a deal on a prisoner exchange. Hamas' leadership in Gaza has repeated to the media over the past two weeks that they currently have a rare “opportunity” to reach this long-anticipated deal, and Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper, which is believed to have close ties to Hamas, has been reporting that a prisoner exchange mediated by Egypt is increasingly likely.

What seems to be propelling the idea forward is the coronavirus pandemic. This crisis has provided both Israel and Hamas with greater room for public flexibility on precisely those issues that have prevented any progress on a prisoner exchange in the past.

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