Lt. Hadar Goldin (left) and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul were killed in action in the war against Hamas in 2014.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israeli politicians championed their government's decision Sunday to hold the bodies of terrorists who were killed in last week's tunnel blast, arguing they should be used as bargaining chips to trade for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers being held by Hamas.
“The bodies of these terrorists are bargaining chips,” said Likud MK and former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter. "Those terrorists bodies should not be handed over until the boys are returned to us."
Hamas is believed to be holding the bodies of missing IDF soldiers Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul, who were killed in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, as well as three other Israeli citizens — Avraham Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed and Juma Abu Anima.
Internal Security Minister and Minister for Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan said "Israel must treat the Gaza Strip as a single entity and make it clear that until we receive our loved ones, they will not receive a single body."
“The Israeli government must speak to Hamas in a clear voice and say that the bodies of the terrorist will not be returned until the [fallen] soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul are brought back to Israel,” Opposition leader Avi Gabbay said.
He added that the state of Israel has an obligation to the families of these soldiers and must act to bring their bodies back to Israel.
Islamic Jihad blasted Israel's decision.
“The movement is committed to work to bring back the pure bodies in the way that the enemy forces it,” Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shehab said.
Hamas, who had reportedly asked the International Committee of the Red Cross to request Israel to allow its men to search for the missing bodies in the Israel-Gaza security zone, also condemned Israel's announcement.
“The Zionist occupation taking captive the martyrs’ bodies is a desperate attempt to impose a new equation on the resistance,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.
Islamic Jihad also suggested that, had Israel agreed Hamas' request, some of their fighters who died as a result of the blast could have survived.