Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin.
(photo credit: REUTERS,Courtesy)
Hamas has rejected proposals for a prisoner exchange deal in return for the bodies of IDF soldiers along with Israeli nationals held in Gaza, a representative from the Prime Minister's Office said Tuesday.
IDF Col. (Res.) Lior Lotan, said at a conference at the Institute for Policies Against Terror that Hamas is responsible for the fact that two Israeli civilians and the remains of two IDF soldiers have not been returned to their families.
Lotan placed responsibility on the Hamas leadership for preventing a deal to return the bodies of Lt. Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who both fell in the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, along with the return of two Israeli citizens who crossed into the Gaza Strip.
In a rare reference to the issue, Lotan said Hamas has rejected unprecedented proposals offered by Israel to return 19 Hamas prisoners arrested by IDF forces in 2014 and another 19 bodies of Hamas operatives killed during combat, in exchange for the Israeli soldiers' remains.
According to Lotan, Israel also used several channels to communicate to Hamas an offer to return dozens of Gazans who were arrested after they crossed into Israel in return for several Israeli citizens who are apparently being held by Hamas. The two Israeli civilians who crossed into Gaza - Israeli-Beduin Hisham al-Sayed and Ethiopian-Israeli Avraham “Abera” Mengistu - are said to suffer from mental illness.
"It is internationally accepted, even in the worst confrontations, that both sides exchange soldiers and the dead at the end of the conflict," Lotan said.
"In an unprecedented manner, Hamas responded negatively and placed preconditions - a solution calling for other prisoners that are not from the Gaza Strip and are not connected to Operation Protective Edge," he added.