Photo Credit: Miriam Alster / Flash 90
Defense Minister Moshe 'Boogie' Ya'alon.

Defense Minister Moshe ‘Boogie’ Ya’alon put an end to conflicting media reports and confirmed Sunday night that Hamas is holding the body – or parts of the body – of IDF soldier Oron Shaul.

A tweet from a Ha’aretz journalist quoted Ya’alon as saying that Shaul’s body was being held by Hamas in Gaza. A similar report in Egyptian media claimed Israel had negotiated with Hamas for the return of body parts belonging to Shaul, and for fallen IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, in exchange for releasing Hamas terrorists captured by the IDF during Operation Protective Edge. Likewise, Israel’s Channel 2 television reported similar negotiations, saying that Israel offered to trade eight bodies and 15 Hamas captives in exchange for the IDF body parts.

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By then, Israeli officials were trying to douse the fire, and subsequently were quoted as denying the reports. Instead, they warned they were being used as psychological warfare to manipulate the grief of the Israeli public over the soldiers’ deaths.

But Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon put an end to the media speculation and delivered the sad news in his typical forthright style.

Ya’alon told journalists late Sunday evening that Israel is attempting to work through diplomatic channels to retrieve Shaul’s body, which he had already verified was being held by Hamas. He had shared that painful news in a visit with the soldier’s family, and promised them that Israel will bring him back.

“We are committed to bringing Oron home to be laid to rest here in Israel,” Ya’alon reportedly told the family. “We will not rest until this is done, and we are dealing with the issue. We will keep you posted on every development and my door will always be open to you for any question you might have.”

Shaul was killed together with six other soldiers when his armored personnel carrier was blown up by an anti-tank missile in a heavy firefight in the Shejaiyya section of Gaza City. During that battle, other IDF soldiers were able to recover the bodies of his six comrades but were unable to find the body of Oron Shaul. Initially it was believed that Shaul was kidnapped alive, but closer investigation of the site revealed enough evidence for the IDF Chief Military Rabbi to conclude the soldier had fallen in combat.

Goldin, a Givati officer, was killed when a suicide bomber emerged from a tunnel nearby and detonated his explosives belt right next to his unit, killing him and two other soldiers. Other terrorists then dragged parts of Goldin’s body into a tunnel, according to an exclusive report posted on Breitbart News. Goldin’s men chased the terrorists but didn’t catch them. They did, however find some of Goldin’s personal items – enough to bring back for a determination of his death as well.

May God and the IDF avenge their blood.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.

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