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Israel sets conditions for talks with Palestinians via Egypt

Reports say Israel is interested in the Egyptian initiative for indirect talks with Hamas, but conditions Hamas on advancing the return of Israeli captives and bodies of soldiers held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
In this handout image provided by the Israeli Government Press Office, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the first leg of his four-day trip to the Middle East, Jerusalem, May 25, 2021.

Reports this morning say Israel has conditioned the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip on advancing the issue of bringing back its citizens and bodies of soldiers held by Hamas. Avraham Avera Mengistu crossed the northern section of the fence separating Israel and Gaza and headed toward the Gaza shore in 2014. Hisham al-Sayed entered Gaza in 2015 through an opening in the fence in the east. They haven't been seen since. Israel believes that Mengistu and Sayed, who reportedly suffer from mental health issues, are held by Hamas. The Islamist movement also holds the bodies of soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed in the 2014 Gaza war.

Over the years, the families of the captives and of the missing soldiers, as well as many Israeli public figures, have campaigned for their return, objecting to the easing of restrictions in Gaza until Hamas complies to their demand. Several attempts at reaching a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas have failed.

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