Netanyahu won’t transfer terrorists' bodies to Gaza until MIAs returned

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "No change in policy of targeted assassinations."

Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi in Tel Aviv on Tuesday (photo credit: REUTERS)
Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi in Tel Aviv on Tuesday
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised not to transfer to Gaza the bodies of terrorists held by Israel unless Hamas releases the remains of two slain soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, presumed to have been killed in the 2014 war.
The families of the two soldiers met with Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem on Sunday, just four days after Israel reached a ceasefire understanding with Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza to restore calm after two days of violence last week.
Goldin’s parents, Leah and Simha Goldin, reported to the media the pledge Netanyahu made to them, in which he promised not to transfer the bodies of terrorists.
Netanyahu also promised the families that no formal ceasefire deal would be made with respect to Gaza that did not include the return of Goldin and Shaul.
The prime minister told the families he would personally use international channels, including through the UN and donor countries, to ensure the return not only of the remains of the two soldiers, but to also secure the release of the two civilian captives in Gaza, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed.
Mengistu’s family said they were surprised to learn of the meeting, given that the Prime Minister’s Office had told them the day before that it was canceled.
According to the Prime Minister's Office, Netanyahu updated the Goldin and Shaul families “on the efforts being made to return the boys and on the latest developments. The families raised other courses of action; the prime minister instructed his staff to evaluate the possibilities that were raised.”
Earlier in the day, Netanyahu updated the weekly cabinet on Gaza, telling the ministers that the IDF had not changed its policy of targeted assassinations, and would continue to target its enemies.
“I would like to reiterate: Israel has not promised anything,” Netanyahu said. “Our security policy has not changed at all, not one iota. We maintain complete freedom of action and we will hurt whomever tries to hurt us.”
Although he did not expand on his comments, it is presumed that he was referring to details of the ceasefire understanding between PIJ and the IDF, which was brokered in Cairo by Egypt and the United Nations.
According to details leaked to the media, Israel promised to refrain from any further targeted assassinations. In the last four days, Israel has repeatedly denied that it had made any such promise or that it had made any other concessions to PIJ, which it holds to be an Iranian proxy.
The initial violence last Tuesday and Wednesday was exclusively between the IDF and PIJ, and did not involve Hamas.
It is unusual for Hamas to be on the sidelines, given that it has autocratically ruled Gaza since 2007. Hamas had also taken the unusual step of temporarily canceling Friday’s March of Return Gaza border protest in an effort to maintain calm.
Israel, however, has blamed Hamas for the two Palestinian rocket launched at southern Israel on Saturday, and launched a retaliatory strike against Hamas targets.
“This weekend, Hamas fired [rockets] at Beersheba,” Netanyahu said. “I instructed the IDF to immediately attack Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. Again, whoever hurts us, we will hurt them. We are prepared for any scenario, and the security establishment knows exactly what plans it must implement to defend the State of Israel in any arena. We will do everything to ensure the security of Israel.”