Israeli Minister: Any deal with Hamas must bring back captives, IDF soldiers’ remains

Israel should not pursue any deals with Hamas in Gaza without the return of Israeli captives and the bodies of IDF soldiers, Transportation Minister Israel Katz said.

By: World Israel News Staff

Transportation Minister Israel Katz said Sunday on his Twitter account that any agreement reached with regards to Gaza must include conditions for the return of Israeli captives and IDF soldiers’ remains.

“In the short-term, all aid to Gaza must be made conditional upon the return of captives being held in Gaza as well as the remains of IDF soldiers,” Katz tweeted.

An unnamed Israeli official was quoted by a number of media outlets as saying that Israel will not accept a broad agreement with Hamas on the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip which does not include the return of the remains of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul and the two Israeli citizens held by the terror group.

“There will be no broad agreement without the return of the boys. This is unequivocal,” he stated.

The source underscored that the talks with Hamas, through the United Nations and Egypt, has one objective, and that is to obtain a complete ceasefire with Hamas. Nothing short of a full cessation of the violents on Israel border with Gaza will be accepted.

Hamas, which rules Gaza, is believed to be holding the remains of two IDF soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, killed during the 2014 summer war.

Shaul was killed in battle together with another six Golani soldiers in Shajaiya in 2014 when their armored personnel carrier was hit by an anti-tank rocket. His body was never recovered and is assumed to be held by Hamas.

Goldin was abducted by Hamas and killed during a battle with Hamas terrorists in Shajaiya. Two other IDF soldiers also died in the incident. The battle ensued hours after a UN-sponsored ceasefire came into effect.

In addition, Hamas is believed to be holding two Israeli civilians who scaled a border fence and entered Gaza. Ethiopian-Israeli Avera Mengistu and Bedouin Hisham al-Sayed, both said to be suffering from mental health issues, crossed into Gaza willingly in 2014 and 2015, respectively, and were captured by Hamas.

Katz added that a full ceasefire would lead Israel side to reopen the Kerem Shalom Crossing, which has been shut down in recent weeks, and renew extended fishing permits for Gaza fishermen.

According to reports, Israel and other countries are formulating a plan which includes providing massive humanitarian aid to Gaza and a long-term ceasefire. Israel hopes that part of the plan will include the return of all Israelis held by Hamas.

Egypt has been trying to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. As part of the negotiations, several exiled Hamas leaders have entered Gaza for high-level internal consultations.

The deal is being discussed Sunday by Israel’s cabinet.