The parents of IDF soldier Lt. Hadar Goldin – who was killed during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014 – slammed the government on Sunday for working to achieve a cease-fire deal with Hamas but for failing to include the return of Israel’s missing soldiers as part of the deal
On Saturday night, the family claimed that IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot told them last week that if the government wanted to, it could secure the return of their son’s body from Hamas within a week. This could be done, the family said, by stopping all projects in Gaza except for water, food and sewage.
Goldin was killed at the end of the Gaza war and his body was taken by Hamas terrorists. Hamas has refused to return the body as well as the remains of IDF St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul – also killed during the 2014 war – unless Israel agrees to release jailed Palestinian terrorists.
“From the tough meeting, we concluded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not want to return the soldiers to Israel,” the Goldin family said in a statement.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Office refuted the statement and said that Eisenkot met with Leah and Simha Goldin last Friday but that the statements attributed to him were “partial and did not accurately reflect what was said in the meeting.”
Two Israeli civilians – Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed – are also being held by Hamas in Gaza. Both crossed into Gaza voluntarily, though both men suffer from mental illness.
On Sunday, Simha Goldin admitted that the statement had been taken out of context but proceeded to slam the government for working to achieve a deal that would not include the return of his son or Shaul’s remains.
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“According to the Egyptian reports, they are going to try and return the boys,” Goldin said. “Are they Egyptian soldiers?”
“Also in the Turkish deal, they said the Turks would work to get him returned. If a soldier is abducted by Hezbollah, the Lebanese will return him?” Goldin continued. “I am prepared to say that the statement was taken out of context but the question is what is the chief of staff doing?”
On Saturday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Sharm e-Sheikh, as part of Egypt’s efforts toward a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, known to be affiliated with Hamas, published details of a draft agreement under discussion, which would be implemented in stages over three years.
Among the conditions would be an agreement by Israel to lift 70% of its restrictions on goods and movement in and out of Gaza, including at its two border crossings at Kerem Shalom and Erez. United Nations infrastructure and energy projects would move forward under the deal, and would create 30,000 jobs for Palestinians in Gaza.
In addition, Egypt would agree to ensure that its crossing into Gaza at Rafah would remain open, and the Gaza fishing zone would be extended to 14 nautical miles.