Israel appeared to raise the possibility of an exchange with Hamas for the remains of soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oren Shaul, held since 2014.
By: Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News
Israel has confirmed it is holding the bodies of two Palestinian terrorists killed by security forces as they attacked an IDF border position on Friday, during the Hamas “March of Return.” By doing so, Israel appeared to raise the possibility of an exchange with Hamas for the remains of IDF soldiers held by the terror group.
According to the army, “The terrorists were armed with rifles and an explosive device. They intended to carry out a terrorist operation in Israel.”
The two Palestinian terrorists were identified as Mosa’ab Salol, a known member of Hamas’ military wing, and Mohammed Rabaya.
In a post on his Arabic Facebook page, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), seemed to hint at a swap for the remains of two soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, presumed to have been killed in Gaza in 2014.
Mordechai wrote that Israel is holding the bodies of 24 other Palestinians who were killed in Operation Protective Edge (the 2014 Gaza War) and in the demolition of a Hamas attack tunnel into Israel last October. The COGAT head noted that the quick burial of bodies is important to both Judaism and Islam, but Hamas has prevented that from happening by holding Israelis hostage, thereby preventing Palestinian families in Gaza from praying over the grave of their loved ones.
“Israel will not be quiet and the people of Gaza will not be tranquil until the Israelis have been returned from the Strip and our soldiers have been transferred for burial in Israel,” Mordechai said.
Israel also wants to secure the release of three Israelis – Avera Mengistu, 31, Hisham al-Sayed, 30, and Jumaa Abu Ghanima, 20 – who are believed to be suffering from mental illness and who wandered into Gaza by accident.
On Sunday, Goldin’s father Simcha said, “Israel has to use the (terrorists) bodies as a bargaining chip with Hamas and hold onto them until a solution has been found and the soldiers are returned.” The family is demanding that the government abide by a decision it passed last year, barring the return of terrorists’ bodies to their families as long as the soldiers’ remains are not returned.
The family of Mengistu on Sunday launched a tent protest outside the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem, calling on the government to bring Abera back from Hamas captivity.
In the past, Israel has exchanged both Palestinian prisoners and the remains of terrorists for Israeli hostages and the bodies of IDF soldiers.