Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out on Monday about his government's major operational goals, stating that "the government has two big missions— the first is to protect the country and the second is to build the country. We are doing both simultaneously."
In his statement, the premier said that Israel would "protect the country, with a simple rule: Whoever tries to attack us, we attack them. The second rule is: There are no free gifts. We will bring our boys back home, and there are no free gifts," the prime minister said, clarifying that Israel would not return the bodies of Islamic Jihad terrorists before Israel sees its missing citizens (and the remains of the two dead soldiers) safely returned to Jewish land.
Two of the missing Israelis are IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who died during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. The other three are Israeli citizens Avraham Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed and Juma Abu Anima.
The possibility of an emerging swap deal was broached in public discussions over the past week after Israel refused to let Islamic Jihad search for the bodies of missing militants
who disappeared following the destruction of a terror tunnel that invaded Israeli territory.