Bodies of two IDF soldiers could be returned if agreement is reached. One of the families calls it “fake news.”
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
A Hamas-affiliated TV channel reported Tuesday that the terror organization is willing to exchange the bodies of two IDF soldiers for Israeli-held prisoners if an agreement can be reached for a lull in the fighting between Israel and the terror group.
“We expect an exchange of prisoners within the framework of the lull arrangement,” Palestinian sources told the Al Quds channel. “The next few hours are critical.”
The bodies of St. Sgt. Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin have been held by Hamas ever since they were killed four and a half years ago in Operation Protective Edge. The Gazan rulers are also holding Avera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed, and Jumaa Abu Ghanima, three mentally ill Israeli civilians who entered Gaza by accident over the last few years.
Israeli media pundits discussed the question of whether such a deal could really be in the works. Channel 13’s Arab affairs reporter Tzvika Yechezkeli told 103FM that he was sure this was just Hamas’ way of raising the price Israel would have to pay for a prisoner swap.
“Hamas is putting the issue of prisoners on the table because it realizes that it can agitate Israeli public opinion through emotion,” he explained. “That was the case with Gilad Shalit. Five years passed and we got used to the price. Now they’re doing the same thing…. The cabinet has not discussed the release of prisoners and it is clear that the release of those kidnapped will not take place without an exchange of prisoners. This is psychological warfare on the part of Hamas against the suffering families. ”
Reacting to the report, Goldin’s mother Leah said she knew nothing about it, blaming the prime minister for peddling “fake news.”
“If something was happening, the correct and trustworthy people would have told us,” she said in a televised phone interview. “The prime minister promised that there would be no arrangement without the return of the soldiers. Now he’s selling us an arrangement without the soldiers and putting out fake news once again. Unfortunately, we’ve had enough of these kinds of announcements and the lack of action.”
“It’s an election gimmick,” she added. “They’re selling the soldiers for a bowl of lentils and reporting fake news. It’s just a scam.”
The Goldin family has criticized the non-action of the current government for failing to force Hamas to return their sons bodies numerous times over the years.
They have turned to the Supreme Court to induce it to force the government to abide by a 2017 Cabinet decision not give back Hamas terrorists’ bodies until they release the soldiers’ remains. Last July, Mrs. Goldin also said that no humanitarian aid should be allowed in to Gaza unless the soldiers are returned.