Sun, 14 Aug 2022

GAZA/JERUSALEM, June 27 (Xinhua) -- The armed wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) on Monday said that the health condition of an Israeli captive in Gaza has recently deteriorated.

Abu Obeida, the spokesman of Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas armed wing, said in a short tweet that the health of one of their Israeli hostages has deteriorated.

The tweet did not give further details, but said evidence would be published in the coming hours.

On Monday night, Israeli Prime Minister's office blamed Hamas for the state of the captured civilians, saying "Israel will continue its efforts, mediated by Egypt, to bring home the captives and the missing, with responsibility and determination."

An Israeli security official told Israel Radio that Hamas' announcement "appears to be an attempt to pressure Israel within the framework of negotiations for a prisoner swap deal."

The Spokesperson's Unit of the Israel Defense Forces was not immediately available to comment for Xinhua.

Israel believes that Hamas, an Islamist Palestinian group that runs the coastal Palestinian enclave, holds the remains of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, two soldiers that were killed in Gaza during Israel's military offensive in 2014, as well as two civilians who are believed to be alive, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed.

In 2016, the military wing of Hamas announced for the first time that it keeps four Israeli soldiers in its captivity, without specifying their fate.

Hamas has sought to trade the prisoners in exchange for relief in the blockade on Gaza that Israel has imposed since 2007. Israel maintains it will not lift the blockade until the prisoners are freed and the Gaza Strip is demilitarized.

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