Israel: Hamas rejects deal to return soldiers’ bodies, captives

Israel made two parallel offers to facilitate the return of the bodies of two soldiers killed during Israel’s 2014 war with Hamas and two civilians who crossed into Gaza, but Hamas has rejected both.

The Hamas terror organization has recently rejected an Israeli offer that would see the return of Israeli civilians Avra Mangisto and Hisham Al-Sayed and the remains of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul held by Hamas in Gaza in exchange for the release of all Hamas terrorists captured by the IDF during Operation Protective Edge.

The prime minister’s coordinator for POWs and MIAs, Colonel (RES.) Lior Lotan, told the Herzliya Conference on Tuesday that Israel made two parallel offers through several channels to facilitate the return of the soldiers’ bodies and the civilians, but Hamas has rejected both.

“These kinds of exchanges are accepted as the norm all over the world, that at the end of a conflict you exchange the bodies and prisoners,” Lotan said. “In an unprecedented move, Hamas rejected the offer.”

Lotan said Hamas demanded the release of terrorist prisoners who were caught in other incidents and ones who did not come from the Gaza Strip. “We can’t accept this, not professionally or practically.”

“Our enemies should not be mistaken. We are not deterred and will pursue the mission until we are successful,” he concluded.

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Shaul died 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.

Mengistu, an Ethiopian Jew, and Al-Sayed, an Israeli Bedouin crossed into Gaza on their own before being captured by Hamas.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News