Goldin and Shaul

Who possibly can’t feel the pain and anguish of the Goldin and Shaul families?

Lt. Hadar Goldin (left) and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul were killed in action in the war against Hamas in 2014 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Lt. Hadar Goldin (left) and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul were killed in action in the war against Hamas in 2014
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Who possibly can’t feel the pain and anguish of the Goldin and Shaul families?
It’s been four years since their sons, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, were presumed killed during the IDF’s 2014 Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in Gaza – four long years in which the families have lobbied the government incessantly to do everything possible to return Hadar and Oron’s remains to Israel so they can have a proper burial and begin a process of closure over this tragic, but unfortunately not rare situation that has befallen Israeli families during the country’s ongoing conflict with its enemies.
The plight of the Goldins and Shauls is back in the headlines, not only because of the fourth anniversary of the war, but because of a nascent plan being brokered by the United Nations and Egypt to restore calm to Gaza and achieve a long-term understanding between Israel and Hamas.
The families held a press conference on Sunday ahead of a security cabinet meeting about the cease-fire plan in which they called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to agree to any plan without ensuring the return of their sons’ remains and of the other Israeli civilian captives believed to be held in the Hamas-ruled enclave: Avera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed and Jumaa Abu-Ghanima.
Unfortunately, instead of being a unifying factor ahead of any decision about the situation in the South, the Israeli MIA issue has turned into a divisive one that has led to a “he said/ she said” series of accusations and counter-claims by the families and the government.
According to Hadar and Shaul’s parents, the government has abandoned them during their four-year ordeal and has broken promises to make the return of their sons contingent on any agreement with the Palestinians.
 “This is our last window of opportunity,” Zehava Shaul said. She added that before the death of her husband Herzl two years ago, the prime minister called the Shauls liars and yelled at them for saying he had promised not to sign any reconciliation with Turkey without the return of the boys.
Adding to the sordid aspect of events, Channel Ten reported Sunday that Sarah Netanyahu phoned Leah Goldin in 2016 and called her “ungrateful” for inviting Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked instead of the prime minister to speak at a ceremony marking the death of Hadar.
“If you join with my husband’s political enemies, it may harm the efforts to bring the boys back,” Netanyahu reportedly told Goldin, according to the report.
The Prime Minister’s Office has denied that either the shouting incident with the premier or the phone call with Sara Netanyahu ever took place and whether true or not, the airing of dirty laundry only weakens Israel’s position and doesn’t help bring the missing Israelis home.
We understand the families’ efforts to do whatever is needed to retrieve their sons and we call on them and the government to recalibrate their relationship and work toward that mutual goal.
However, as much we would like to see the Goldin and Shaul families receive their sons’ remains in any agreement in the works, it should not be the stumbling block that torpedoes the chance of closing a deal. If there’s a lesson to be learned from the deal to free Gilad Schalit, it is that Israel can not afford to make the mistake again of paying exaggerated prices that it will later regret.
There’s no way of knowing if the agreement being worked on between Israel and Hamas will ever see the light of day. There are many moving parts in this saga; unfortunately, the fate of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul is just one of them. We share the hopes and prayers of all Israelis that the families will get their sons back, just as we support any government action to restore a sense of safety and peace to Israel’s residents of the South.
These hopes don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but if they are, then the safety of the general public must come first.