Israel to hold bodies of terrorists as leverage against Hamas

Gantz slaps economic sanctions on Hamas terror group after cabinet OKs decision to hold on to terrorist bodies.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Defense Minister Benny Gantz ordered economic sanctions against the Hamas terror group Wednesday after the cabinet approved his recommendation to not return the bodies of any Palestinian terrorists until Hamas agrees to hand over Israeli hostages it is holding illegally.

“I signed four seizure orders for Hamas’ money and property in Gaza and around the world, amounting to millions of shekels,” Gantz tweeted adding that Israel is “fighting terrorism by all means, including by way of their pockets.”

Earlier Wednesday the government approved the decision to not allow the return of terrorist bodies including those who are not Hamas members.

Hamas has been holding two mentally ill Israeli civilians who crossed into Gaza on their own in 2014 and 2015 respectively, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed.

They are considered still alive, but Hamas refuses to abide by international law that calls for the hostages to receive visits from the International Red Cross to determine their status. The terror group is also holding two bodies of soldiers from Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.

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Many Israelis, including the Goldin and Shaul families, have angrily objected each time Israel returns the bodies of Palestinian terrorists who were killed carrying out attacks, saying it is unconscionable to do so while Hamas continues to hold the Israelis and IDF soldiers bodies hostage demanding they only be exchanged for the release of hundreds of convicted Palestinian terrorists currently serving sentences in Israeli jails.

While the IDF supported the move, the Shin Bet General Security Service opposed the decision to retain the bodies because there are no indications that doing so will help advance negotiations for the return of prisoners and missing persons.

Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn abstained from the vote because he thinks the decision will be difficult to defend against petitions to Israel’s Supreme Court, which has in the past said the government must put any decision to hold the bodies into law, which it has yet to do.

The left-wing group B’Tselem that advocates on behalf of the Palestinians claims that holding the terrorists’ bodies violates international law because it “causes immense suffering to the families, as they are unable to bury their loved ones and perform the mourning rituals.”

B’Tselem has not appeared to have called on Hamas to release the bodies of the soldiers. In 2017, it did ask Hamas to release the Israeli civilians and for the International Red Cross to visit them.