Prime Minister Netanyahu enters a meeting of the security cabinet, August 2017.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Col. (res.) Lior Lotan, who served as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s envoy for captives and missing persons for the past three years, submitted his resignation on Friday.
“This position is a very demanding one, which is why it would be good to see [a new] person assume it every few years,” Lotan wrote in his resignation letter.
Lotan filled the position without remuneration.
The parents of slain IDF Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was killed in 2014’s Operation Protective Edge and whose body is held captive by Hamas, expressed their appreciation of Lotan and the work he did but also said that they “feel abandoned by the government.”
Goldin’s family has demanded that his remains be returned to Israel for a proper Jewish burial. His father, noted historian Simcha Goldin, said on Channel 2 on Friday that “the government gives Hamas everything [it] wants and expects the envoy to accept it.”
The Goldin family also said that the government is essentially paying lip service by saying they are “doing everything to bring back Hadar and Oron [Shaul]” while in reality “nothing is [being] done.’’ Like Goldin, Shaul was killed in action in the 2014 Gaza war. The bodies of both are being held by Hamas as bargaining chips for the release of Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails.
Shaul’s father died in 2016 from cancer and claimed the illness was the result of his anguish at losing his son in battle.
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Friday that “the resignation of Lior Lotan is a cause for worry. We have a moral duty to bring our soldiers to a [Jewish] burial in Israel and to bring back our missing citizens.”
Three other Israeli men believed to be held in Gaza are Avera Mengistu, 30, who wandered into Gaza in 2014 and has not been seen since; and Hisham al-Sayed, 29, and Jumaa Abu Ghanima, 19, both of whom were reported missing in 2014. The plight of the missing men, all of whom suffer from mental illness, has received little media attention. Mengistu is a Jewish Ethiopian immigrant; Sayed and Abu Ghanima are Beduin.
Mengistu’s family said on Friday of Lotan’s resignation that without reassurance from the prime minister, “no progress in the return of our son will be made.”