Israel has issued an ultimatum to Hamas: if you want the bodies of the terrorists that died in the tunnel blast, you’ll have to give us the bodies of our soldiers.
On Monday, Israel blew up a partially built Hamas tunnel, resulting in the death of seven terrorists, two of which were senior commanders of Islamic Jihad. Hamas requested that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Israel retrieve the bodies of five terrorists believed to be buried underneath the tunnel.
Israel has signaled that they will not accept Hamas’ request unless they return the bodies of Israeli soldiers Shaul Oron and Hadar Goldin they kidnapped and killed in 2014 Hamas-Israel conflict. Hamas is also believed to have kidnapped three Israeli civilians.
“Israel will not allow search operations in the area of the security barrier in the Gaza Strip without progress on the issue of Israelis kidnapped and MIAs,” Israel Major General Yoav Mordechai reportedly told the ICRC in Gaza.
The families of the missing soldiers agreed.
The family of Shaul Oron told the Times of Israel, “We hope that the Israeli government will not dare to comply with Hamas’s request as long as they do not return Oron. Oron was kidnapped through a tunnel that Hamas dug, and for more than three years has been held by them in Gaza, and yet they do not allow the Red Cross to check on his condition.”
Goldin’s family echoed Oron’s family, stating: “Any Israeli humanitarian gesture toward Hamas must be contingent on bringing our boys home. If Israel responds [positively] to Hamas, it would be a moral injustice and a sign of political weakness.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is also on the side of the Goldin and Oron families.
“Hamas has violated the basic norms of humanity by holding hostage the remains of two Israeli soldiers,” Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a press release sent to the Journal. “We learned first-hand of the anguish of the family of Hadar Goldin, who visited the Simon Wiesenthal Center a few months ago.
“The International Red Cross should immediately launch an effort to release all the remains to their families, without delay.”
Israel has been working to retrieve their kidnapped citizens and bodies of their soldiers, to no avail. In September, Egypt ceased its mediation between Israel Hamas on the matter, making the prospects of an agreement between the two even more remote.
“We are not giving up on this mission – including over the last few days – until we successfully carry it out,” Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in July.