Missing IDF soldiers' families come to Knesset to lobby against Turkey deal

The families said the agreement abandons their sons, because it does not include forcing Hamas to return the bodies.

June 27, 2016 14:59
2 minute read.
idf knesset

Missing IDF soldiers' families lobby against Turkey deal in Knesset. (photo credit: ITZIK HARARI/KNESSET SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE)

The families of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, IDF soldiers killed in 2014’s Operation Protective Edge whose bodies have since been held by Hamas, visited the Knesset Monday to protest the government’s agreement with Turkey.

The families said the agreement abandons their sons, because it does not include forcing Hamas to return the bodies.

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“[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s declarations are empty,” they said. “He is acting against his promises to us from recent days and is bringing the People of Israel and us a bad, problematic agreement that ignores the pain of the families and the fate of Israeli heroes.”

In a joint statement, the families said, “We don’t need empathy from elected officials; we need them to vote against this bad deal and condition any deal on returning the bodies within a set time.”

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein met with the families, vowing to talk to the prime minister and do all he can to add the return of the bodies to the agreement.

“The Knesset in general is united on this topic and I hope that in the coming days we will get a more optimistic picture than the one that has been drawn,” Edelstein added.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid said that he spoke to Goldin’s mother and promised her that the soldiers have not been forgotten.

“The families know that we are with them,” Lapid stated. “There is no place for political behavior on this topic. Our job is to remember the boys every day and try to find ways to find out what happened to them.”

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) also met with the Goldin and Shaul families in the Knesset and said the agreement cannot ignore them.

“It’s important that we now make significant progress in the effort to bring the boys home,” he stated.

Also Monday, former Yesh Atid MK Pnina Tamano-Shata wrote a letter to Netanyahu and Liberman asking them to take Avraham “Abera” Mengistu, a captive of Hamas in Gaza, into consideration in the deal with Turkey.

Mengistu vanished after crossing into Gaza in 2014. His family protested in front of the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday, and Tamano-Shata has helped the family advocate for his return.

Mengistu, 29, is one of 10 children from an Ethiopian-Israeli family from a poor neighborhood in Ashkelon.

Another Israeli civilian being held in Gaza is a Beduin from the South.

Tamano-Shata’s letter reads: “I turn to you before you sign the reconciliation agreement with the Turkish Government, which is in its final stages, to ask you and urge you to include the release of Abera Mengistu, who has been a Hamas captive for two years.”

“Throughout this time... the family has been promised, without any doubt, that all efforts are being made to bring him home safely,” Tamano-Shata wrote. “As such, and with total faith in the government of the country, the Mengistu family has behaved with restraint in public and in the media.”

The former MK said now is the time for the government to show its commitment to freeing captives through actions and not just talk.

“Abera is alive and he must be returned to his family that been carrying pain and endless worry for too long,” she wrote.

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