Has COVID created an opportunity to negotiate prisoner swaps with Hamas?

Palestinian officials reportedly told Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar that Israel has made an offer to Hamas via the Egyptian intelligence delegation that visited the Gaza Strip earlier this week.

Palestinian health workers wearing protective masks walk in a quarantine zone installed by the ministry of health to test passengers returning from China for coronavirus, at Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip February 16, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)
Palestinian health workers wearing protective masks walk in a quarantine zone installed by the ministry of health to test passengers returning from China for coronavirus, at Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip February 16, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)
Israeli officials estimate that in light of the coronavirus outbreak in the Gaza Strip, an opportunity was created for Israel to reach groundbreaking achievements in negotiating with Hamas over the exchange of prisoners, N12 reported on Friday. 
Palestinian officials reportedly told Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar that Israel has made an offer to Hamas via the Egyptian intelligence delegation that visited the Gaza Strip earlier this week and met with Hamas leadership in order to try and promote some kind of agreement with Israel.   
The message supposedly conveyed Israel's readiness to promote an agreement with Hamas and to assist Hamas medically by providing much-needed vaccines and medical equipment to the Gaza Strip, but stressed that Israel will not agree to release prisoners "with blood on their hands."
Hamas officials however, have expressed doubts regarding the credibility of Israel's intentions. According to Al Akhbar, cited by Channel 13, a Hamas official said that he "smells scents of treason" coming from the Israeli message. 
Hamas has since insisted that it be allowed to choose the identity of the released prisoners, a demand that has been completely rejected by Israel that stated that in no way will terrorists and murderers be part of the deal.     
The Israeli message indicated that Israel is ready to move forward with negotiations as soon as possible, and that the window of opportunities is closing and should not be missed.
According to Channel 13, the Egyptian delegation promised the Hamas leadership that Israel has no intention of confronting Hamas any time soon. 
Hamas has been dealing with increasing morbidity rates in the Gaza Strip, with over 10,000 active patients and more than 150 deaths since the pandemic broke out. Earlier this week, Ynet reported that Hamas has started imposing a night curfew during weekends throughout the month of December. 
In November, Hamas officials blamed Israel for the surge in new cases in Gaza, claiming that it is "preventing" the entry of medical supplies into Gaza that would allow Hamas to confront the pandemic. The WHO warned shortly after that the healthcare system in Gaza was near collapse due to the increasing coronavirus morbidity rates and the Israeli blockade. 
There are currently two Israeli citizens being held by Hamas: Avera Mengistu, a disabled 28-year-old (at the time) resident of Ashkelon who crossed the border into the Gaza Strip on September 7, 2014 and wasn't seen since; Hisham al-Sayyed, a young Bedouin suffering from schizophrenia who served in the IDF for several months before being discharged, who crossed the border into Gaza in April 2015; And the bodies of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin who went missing during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 and were later confirmed to be dead. 
Israelis Hadar Goldin, Oron Shaul, Avera Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayed being held by Hamas in Gaza (COURTESY OF THE FAMILY/FACEBOOK)Israelis Hadar Goldin, Oron Shaul, Avera Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayed being held by Hamas in Gaza (COURTESY OF THE FAMILY/FACEBOOK)