Israeli minister: Deterioration in Gaza gives opportunity to return soldiers’ remains

“Due to the situation in Gaza, there is now an opportunity to bring back the soldiers and citizens,” Shaked stated. 

By: World Israel News Staff

Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked said the developing situation in the Gaza Strip presents new opportunities for Israel to bring back the IDF soldiers’ bodies and captive Israelis currently held by Hamas.

Speaking on Wednesday at a conference held by the Lobby to Bring the Soldiers Home, Shaked said that “due to the situation in Gaza, there is now an opportunity to bring back the soldiers and citizens. The Cabinet is discussing the issue.”

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.

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.

However, Shaked underscored that Israel “does not agree to Hamas’ suggestion requiring that we release rearrested Shalit deal terrorists as a precondition.”

Israel released over 1,000 terrorists in 2011 in return for the freedom of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, and has since rearrested many who resumed acts of terrorism.

Hamas has previously communicated that it will reject any deal to return the remains of the IDF soldiers or Israeli civilians in its custody barring a wide-scale prisoner exchange.