Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman convenes with IDF officers in the Gaza region.
(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY/ARIEL HERMONI)
Israel asked Egypt to stop the body of a Hamas-affiliated Palestinian engineer from being brought into Gaza through the Rafah crossing, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Sunday.
Malaysia police says investigation still underway in Palestinian killing suspected to have been carried out by Israel's Mossad, April 22, 2018 (Reuters)
Liberman’s remarks came after the family of Hadar Goldin, an IDF soldier whose body is being held by Hamas—along with that of soldier Oron Shaul—demanded that the body of Dr. Fadi Muhammad al-Batash, who was assassinated near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, not be returned until their son’s is, as well. Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a member of the Security Cabinet, made a similar call.
“The demand to prevent the body’s entry is unclear to me,” Liberman told Army Radio. “We told Egypt our stance, that they shouldn’t bring in the body though the Rafah crossing. We are working through the appropriate channels.”
As for Hamas blaming the Mossad for Batash’s assassination, Liberman said: “You can blame James Bond. The terrorist organizations are constantly looking for ways to harm Israel.”
Batash, 35, was an expert on attack-drone and rocket systems, according to Israeli sources. Hamas threatened retaliation against Israel for the slaying.
Tzur Goldin, Hadar’s brother, came out against Liberman’s “excuses” on Twitter.
“We have a terrorist organization here that is setting the language and rules, because the prime minister and defense minister have chosen fear and defensiveness,” Goldin wrote. “Liberman should stop talking and start working to fulfill his and Bibi’s cabinet decision not to return terrorists’ bodies. [This is] cowardice.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, in an interview with Army Radio, repeated his call to keep Batash’s body out of Gaza. He said he plans to bring the subject up to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Just as we know how to prevent weapons from entering Gaza from Egypt, we can do the same here. If we really care about bringing back the missing [soldiers’ bodies], we can certainly pressure Egypt…Imagine if it wasn’t a coffin, and it was missiles. Could we prevent it? The answer is yes,” Bennett argued.
Bennett also kept mum on who is behind Batash’s assassination, saying: “I’m glad that other people are doing righteous work.”Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.