Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israel has no intention of freely handing over the bodies of five Islamic Jihadist terrorists killed last week when the IDF exploded a tunnel they had built into Israel under the Gaza border.
“We intend to return our sons home. There are no free gifts,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday in a brief statement he delivered in Migdal Ha’emek. He did not specify Islamic Jihad in his remarks or the tunnel incident.
Still, his statement appeared to hint at the terms for a swap of the bodies for Israelis held in Gaza.
This includes the remains of two soldiers held in Gaza, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul
, both of whom are presumed to have been killed during the war in 2014. In addition, there are three Israelis suffering from mental illness who are believed to be held captive in Gaza – Avera Mengistu, 30, Hisham al-Sayed, 29, and Jumaa Abu Ghanima, 19.
The prime minister spoke less than a day after returning from London, where he hammered home the message that Israel plans to defend itself from its enemies.
“This government has two clear missions; to build the country and to defend it,” Netanyahu said. “We plan to defend it based on clear rules; those who attack us, will be attacked.”
At his faction meeting in the Knesset later in the day, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) lauded Netanyahu’s decision not to return the bodies and promised that resources would be available to protect the citizens of Israel from attack, including on the Gaza border.
“As long as we have soldiers and civilians inside the Gaza Strip, we cannot afford to conduct ourselves as usual,”Kahlon said.
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