‘Covert’ effort to get Israelis held in Gaza: Netanyahu

Monitoring Desk

JERUSALEM (AA): Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that he was doing “diplomatic and covert” efforts to get two Israelis held in the Gaza Strip since 2014.

This came during a meeting Netanyahu held with the family of an Israeli man the government says is held by Hamas in the Palestinian territory.

“During the meeting, the prime minister briefed the family about the diplomatic and covert efforts that are being exerted to retrieve the two soldiers and the two citizens to their families,” Netan-yahu’s office said in a statement.

Israel says two soldiers and two civilians are held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip since 2014, when Israeli lau-nched a deadly offensive aga-inst the Palestinian territory.

Hamas has declined to confirm the Israeli claim, but the Palestinian group demands the release of dozens of Palestinian prisoners whom Israel re-arrested after their release as part of an Egyptian-brokered exchange deal in 2011. According to Palestinian figures, some 6,500 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli prisons, including dozens of women and scores of minors. AA