Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir/TPS
Lea Goldin at a ceremony dedicating a plaque in the name of Hadar Goldin. Hadar was killed during Operation Protective Edge. Hadar's body has been held in captivity since. Ammunition Hill, Jerusalem, Jun 25, 2017.

Thousands of Jewish mothers across the US have joined a campaign urging Congress to insist on the return of the bodies of two IDF fallen soldiers and two Israeli civilians being held by Hamas as a precondition to any US aid to the Gaza Strip.

“It’s a humanitarian imperative to bury fallen soldiers and care for the mentally challenged, but Hamas blatantly disregards international law,” said Robin Meyerson, of Scottsdale, Arizona.

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The remains of IDF soldiers Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, who were killed during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014, 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 are holding the two citizens and two bodies as bargaining chips, a violation of the Geneva Conventions and International Humanitarian Law.

The Israeli government has been negotiating for seven years with no progress.

Hamas is also holding Israeli citizens Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed who crossed the border into Gaza several years ago. Both are said to be contending with mental health issues.

The organizers of the petition, addressed to the Congress Subcommittee Deciding on Humanitarian Aid, noted that because Goldin was killed during a ceasefire negotiated by the US and United Nations, “the US has a responsibility to help solve this issue. The American Jewish community has a voice in this issue and must be heard.”

“It is a Jewish value and a humanitarian imperative to bury fallen soldiers and care for the mentally challenged. We must ask that the American government ensures that funding for the rehabilitation of Gaza includes a precondition of returning the Israeli fallen soldiers and missing civilians being held illegally in Gaza,” said Meyerson.

As a Momentum Israel Trip Leader, Meyerson met with Leah and Simcha Goldin, Hadar’s parents, and learned that they have been waiting for more than seven years to have their son’s body returned from Gaza “for a proper, decent burial, to have a cemetery to visit on the anniversary of his death and to bring a measure of closure to their heartache and pain.”

“Losing a son is terrible, but then the unthinkable heartache of not being able to properly bury and visit a son’s gravesite is inhumane and against international law,” she underscored.

“The Jewish tradition holds of utmost importance the burial of our loved ones. As a fellow mom I am completely heartbroken by this terrible situation and am spearheading a nationwide campaign of other Momentum moms to reach out to the congressmen and congresswomen making this critical monetary decision and to implore that a precondition be added to include the return of the two bodies for burial and return the two missing civilians”, she stated.

“How can the US government permit humanitarian aid while Hadar and Oron’s bodies are still in Gaza? How can we give support and sustenance when the principle of mutual responsibility for the dead is not being taken care of?  The American Jewish community needs to insist that the US government use the influence of appropriating US funds to Gaza to enable a grieving mother and father to finally bury their son,” she concluded.

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