“Freed Hamas prisoners are building Gaza tunnels with cement that came from Israel,” but the bodies of two IDF soldiers who fell in combat and are still being held by the terror organization have not been returned, Simcha Goldin, father of Lt. Hadar Goldin told the Knesset.
The Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee held a meeting on Wednesday with the participation of the families of IDF soldiers Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, who were killed during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014.
The remains of both soldiers’ bodies are thought to be held by Hamas.
Goldin, of the elite Givati Reconnaissance Unit, was killed and abducted by Hamas during a battle with terrorists. Two other IDF soldiers also died in the incident. The battle ensued hours after an UN-sponsored ceasefire came into effect.
Shaul was killed in battle together with another six Golani soldiers in Shajaiya when their armored personnel carrier was hit by an anti-tank rocket. His body was never recovered and is assumed to be held by Hamas.
Hamas is also holding Israeli citizens Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed who crossed the border into Gaza several years ago.
Committee Chairman Member of Knesset Zvi Hauser Hauser said during the meeting that “by snatching bodies, also during a ceasefire, the terrorists from Hamas committed an act that goes against the rules of basic human morality, in violation of international law and contradictory to the principles of faith.”
“Israel must not conduct the return of our fallen [soldiers] for burial in Israel according to the rules of the game of the Islamist terror movement Hamas. [Israel’s conduct] regarding this issue must be based on the principles of humanitarian reciprocation,” he demanded.
Hadar’s twin brother Tzur said that “the job of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee is to assess the government’s conduct, and we are here because the Government of Israel has proven over the past few years that its policy is not to make efforts to bring the sons of Israel home.”
“My brother is being held an hour from here, in a place that is more or less known,” Goldin said. “We are not here to conduct an intellectual debate about the options that are on the table. Rather, [we are here] to detail the failures and demand that they be revealed to the public.”
He said it is the committee’s duty to “demand the rights of the soldiers of the IDF and the families of Israeli citizens that enlist their children for combat service every month. It is your duty to detail the failures and demand our sons.”
Oron’s brother Ofek said that he has been “waiting 2,388 days for my brother to return from captivity. Oron went to fight the enemy and was taken prisoner. After a war, prisoner exchanges are carried out, and this is not a bad term.”
IDF Maj.-Gen. Aharon Haliva, commander of the IDF’s Operations Directorate, said “it is the IDF’s duty to bring home Hadar, Oron and the rest of the missing IDF soldiers, wherever they may be. We are constantly dealing with this matter.
“We will continue to make efforts in various channels – both in the operational world and in more clandestine worlds, out of a national security viewpoint, to bring them home quickly,” he added.
Simcha Goldin, Hadar’s father, said that “the issue of not returning Hadar and Oron harms national resilience.”
“Released prisoners are building the tunnels with cement that also came from Israel. The State of Israel has given everything, but it has not received just one thing – our sons,” he charged.
Hauser summed up by stating that “our fallen soldiers must be returned, and no option should be taken off the table.”
He said the government must take every measure to bring the soldiers back to Israel, “and it must not surrender to terror.”