For two mothers, five years later the war is still not over

“The war is not over until the two boys are returned,” Leah told The Jerusalem Post. She has accepted the army’s assessment that her son died, but wants to see his body returned.

By
July 8, 2019 19:10
3 minute read.
Goldin Shaul soldiers

Lt. Hadar Goldin (left) and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul were killed in action in the war against Hamas in 2014. (photo credit: Courtesy)

For two IDF mothers, the 2014 Gaza war that began five years ago Monday has yet to end, even though most of the world calculates that its guns were silenced on August 26.

The army holds that Lt. Hadar Goldin was killed in a Hamas attack on August 1, when he was 23 years old. It similarly holds that St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul, then 20, was killed on July 20 when an armored personnel carrier he was traveling in was hit. Hamas is believed to be holding both their bodies.

“The war is not over until the two boys are returned,” Leah told The Jerusalem Post. She has accepted the army’s assessment that her son died, but wants to see his body returned.

“My son isn’t dead, he was kidnapped alive,” Zehava told Army radio. “Everyone needs to know that Oron was not in the APC when it exploded. He was fighting outside and was kidnapped.”
Leah said her son, Hadar, was killed two hours after a temporary truce had been declared. Hamas took advance of the truce to attack, she said.



“The truce was brokered by the United States and the United Nations and they should be responsible for the return of the remains of the two soldiers,” Zehava said.

In their effort to return their sons, the two families have traveled to the US and the United Nations. The families have been represented in their efforts by former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler, and met with former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.

The UN Security Council even held an informal gathering, known as Arria Formula meeting, on behalf of Goldin and Shaul.

The capture and the retention of the bodies is a violation of international law, she said.

She urged all countries who donate humanitarian aid to Gaza to leverage that financial assistance to help the return of her son and Oron.

“Just imagine Gaza and Hamas could not survive for a single day without the support of the international community,” Leah said.

She received a surprising boost of hope from a June 11, 2019, UN Security Council Resolution 2474 that dealt with the issue of missing persons.

According to the UN, it “called upon parties to armed conflict to take all appropriate measures to actively search for persons reported missing, to enable the return of their remains, and to account for persons reported missing ‘without adverse distinction.’”

What’s frustrating, she said, is that now that Israel is in an election campaign, the government is not in a position to push for the return of the two soldiers.

“Everyone is paralyzed,” she said, adding that “during the previous election, we were disappointed to see that none of the candidates raised our case.”

The current policy of giving to Hamas without demanding anything in return is senseless, she said.

The Americans and the donor countries should bring “our sons” home, she said. It is a matter of values and morality, she added, and the same is true for the state of Israel.

At present Israel holds that the return of the two soldiers, as well as the two civilians who were taken by Hamas after the war ended, is a matter for a later stage in the negotiations to a long-term truce with Hamas. At present it has focused on the restoration of calm.

But Leah Goldin said it should be the first step, not the last. From her perspective, the country is still at war.

“Rockets and mortars are still launched against Israel,” she said. “Incendiary balloons have lit fields in the south on fire for over a year. Returning Hadar and the Oron is the solution not the problem. It would be the first time that Hamas will have to give us rather than getting something for nothing.”


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