(photo credit: Courtesy)
Breaking months of silence, the parents of Golani Brigade soldier St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul, 22, killed in action in the Gaza Strip in 2014, held a press conference Sunday in their hometown of Poriya and demanded the government do more to recover their son’s remains.
“The current situation has to change. This requires us to change our strategy. We have no doubt that we must think differently in order to bring Oron and Hadar [Goldin] home,” Shaul’s mother, Zehava, said.
The body of Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, from the Givati Brigade’s Reconnaissance Company, has also not been recovered. He was killed in a Hamas tunnel in Rafah during Operation Protective Edge, and Shaul was killed in an ambush in Gaza City’s Shejaia neighborhood.
“Despite the efforts that have been made or not made, we have not seen a change in the situation and Oron has not been returned home. Mr. Prime Minister, a year and a half and the situation remains the same,” she said, addressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In an unusual step, she also turned directly to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
“I am turning to you again, for a second time. I want to believe you. Present me with concrete evidence on the condition of Oron. We will turn over the country, and the world, to ensure that the deal [for his return] will be carried out.”
Even though their bodies have not been found, the IDF Rabbinate classified both men as soldiers who died, but whose place of burial is not known. Hamas in 2014 immediately claimed to have kidnapped Oron Shaul, something later disputed by the IDF.
Zehava Shaul told reporters she was “demanding from her country” that it quickly bring back her son, together with Goldin.
This past summer, Israel had begun backchannel negotiations to return the bodies of Shaul and Goldin, according to Hamas officials.
A Hamas source claimed that a European mediator contacted Hamas and inquired about the status of the bodies of the two soldiers.
The source added that Hamas refuses to discuss this issue until Israel releases all the detainees who were traded for tank gunner Gilad Schalit and were rearrested last summer after Hamas terrorists abducted and murdered three Israeli teenagers in Gush Etzion.
The Prime Minister’s Office had no response on the issue.
Yesh Atid MK Haim Jelin issued a statement saying that the government was doing everything it could to keep the Shaul and Goldin families quiet.
“The government claims that every word will increase the price for the return of the boys, but silence makes us forget the issue,” he said.
Referring to recent cases where Israel handed over to the Palestinian corpses of terrorists without getting anything in return, Jelin said that it is inconceivable that this would take place at a time when “the bodies of our sons are being held in Gaza.”
Until the soldiers’ bodies are returned from Gaza, he continued, Israel should not release the bodies of terrorists to the Palestinians.
Hadas Mizrahi, the wife of Baruch Mizrahi who was killed last year on the eve of Passover by a terrorist released in the 2011 deal for Schalit, issued a statement through the Almagor Terror Victims Association saying that the Schalit deal has already left six bereaved families.
In addition, she charged that the recent wave of terrorism has involved a number of Hamas terrorists released in the Schalit deal.
She said she would fight against any future deal that would release terrorists, so that “others do not suffer like me and my children.”
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.