Gantz says return of Israeli hostages, bodies condition for Gaza reconstruction

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz reiterates that Israel will not allow large-scale reconstruction of the Gaza Strip unless the rulers of the enclave, the Hamas terror group, releases two Israeli civilians and the remains of two fallen Israeli soldiers whom it has held captive for more than six years.

“Operation Guardian of the Walls ended, but it hasn’t finished,” Gantz says, referring to Israel’s name for last month’s 11-day conflict in the Strip.

“The Hamas terror group in Gaza needs to understand: We are determined. If Hamas wants reconstruction and economic development, the time has come that it takes concrete steps to maintain the calm, to halt the rearmament and to return the boys home,” he says.

“We are also prepared to change the situation for the better for Gaza residents, but we won’t accept any form of terror, or the captivity of our boys in clear violation of international law,” the defense minister adds.

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