Hamas threatens Israel, but reportedly weighs prisoner swap for ventilators

Sinwar claimed Hamas will make “six million Israeli settlers unable to breathe” if Gazan coronavirus patients die from lack of ventilators.

By Aaron Sull, World Israel News

Facing a possible coronavirus crisis in Gaza, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar may be willing to negotiate a prisoner exchange with Israel, Ynet reported Sunday

On Friday, Sinwar threatened Israel in response to the potential lack of ventilators in the Gaza Strip.

“I say this loud and clear: God forbid, if a time comes when we have no choice but to watch our citizens breathe their final breaths, and when there are no ventilators – I say to [Israel Defense Minister Naftali] Bennett that we will make six million Israeli settlers unable to breathe,” Sinwar told Hamas’s Shehab News Agency on Friday, as translated by Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

“If ventilators are not brought into [Gaza], we’ll take them by force from Israel and stop the breathing of six million Israelis,” said Sinwar.

With pandemic pressure apparently mounting on Hamas, the London based pan-Arab Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported that the terror group may be willing to negotiate a prisoner swap in an effort to get Israel’s cooperation in obtaining medical equipment.

In 2011 Israel released 1,027 convicted terrorists in exchange for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who was freed on October 18 of that year.

Hamas currently holds two Israeli civilian prisoners and also refuses to release the bodies of two IDF soldiers who were killed in Gaza in 2014. Hundreds of Hamas members are serving sentences in Israeli prisons based on convictions for terror-related crimes, including mass murder.

In his comments Friday, Sinwar claimed Bennett has a “Merchant of Venice mentality,” referring to a Shakespeare play featuring anti-Semitic caricatures and a Jewish character named Shylock who lends money using a pound of the gentile borrower’s flesh as collateral.

“This is the common practice of Bennett, and of the entire Zionist system that has occupied our land,” he said.

Now that the coronavirus has hit Gaza, Hamas is racing to build two massive quarantine facilities — hoping to prevent the disease from spreading and overwhelming Gaza’s health system.

The coastal enclave remains impoverished under the iron fist of Hamas, which uses hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to purchase weapons and pursue terror.

According to Abdel Nasser Sobh, the director of the World Health Organization office in the Gaza Strip, the territory only has a “modest” amount of respirators.

“The health sector in Gaza has the capacity to deal with only 100 to 150 cases of coronavirus infection, and to examine 1,000 cases, because its health system is weak and cannot respond to large numbers,” Sobh told the Al-Ain website on Tuesday as quoted by Al-Monitor.

“It has a modest availability of respirators and intensive care beds, in addition to a 39% deficit in medication,” he said.