Netanyahu denies yelling at bereaved parents two years ago

The prime minister rejected the accusation made during a press conference by Zehava Shaul, mother of Oron Shaul, an IDF soldier killed in Operation Protective Edge.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In an emotion-laden press conference Sunday, Zehava Shaul, mother of IDF soldier Oron Shaul, who was killed in action in Gaza in Operation Protective Edge in 2014, charged that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had yelled at her and her late husband when they met with him a little over two years ago to discuss their struggle to retrieve their son’s remains from Hamas.

“About two months before [my husband Herzl’s] death, we met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and he shouted at us and accused us. He called us liars,” she said, and that was when they lost faith that the government was doing everything it could to get their son back.

The Prime Minister’s Office immediately issued a statement denying the accusation.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu has never shouted at bereaved families or accused them, and this is how he related to the Shaul family as well. The prime minister will continue to make every effort until the boys return home,” the statement said.

Ha’aretz reported that the parents of Hadar Goldin, the other soldier whose remains are being held by Hamas, said they had witnessed the event, as had others.

Shaul made the surprising statement at a media event called in reaction to the security cabinet meeting being held concurrently that was purportedly discussing a possible truce with Hamas brokered by UN and Egyptian officials.

The Shaul and Goldin families, whose sons Oron and Hadar were killed in Operation Protective Edge, as well as the family of a mentally disabled young man who crossed into Gaza in 2016,  were demanding that no such agreement be signed until their loved ones are returned home.

“I hereby call upon the Government of Israel: Don’t be partners in negotiations with the terrorist organization and do not sign an agreement with any despicable and cruel organization that kidnapped Oron and Hadar, our best sons and soldiers who went out to defend the homeland,” Shaul said.

The bereaved mother also turned specifically to the people most affected by Hamas’ rocket and arson attacks to help prevent a truce from being signed.

‘This is the last chance for us’

“I appeal personally to the entire people of Israel, including the residents of the Gaza perimeter, for whom Oron and Hadar fought to enable them to have peaceful days. Please join this moral struggle and help us prevent the Israeli government from signing a truce with Hamas that does not include the preliminary conditions of returning the sons home,” she stated.

“This is the last chance for us,” Shaul added. “We can’t miss it.”

Simcha Goldin, Hadar’s father, spoke even more harshly against the prime minister, blaming him personally for not getting the hostages back.

“The words that Netanyahu makes sure to say at every event and ceremony, that the state is doing everything it can, are hollow words behind which there is nothing and there always was nothing,” he charged.

“Now there are new expressions – a broad framework, a broad agreement – everything is spin … The truth is that there is no German mediator, no Qatari channel, no Egyptian intelligence official who is dealing with the return of soldiers and civilians. They do not exist because the Israeli prime minister has become a senior partner in an agreement of surrender.”

Hadar’s mother Leah begged Netanyahu to learn from US President Donald Trump, who, she said, demanded that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un return American (bodies) from the Korean War before holding talks.

‘Bibi, learn from Trump’

“Bibi, learn from Trump. There is no agreement without compensation. There is no rehabilitation and upgrading without Oron, Hadar, Hisham and Abera first. Humanitarian [acts] in exchange for humanitarian [aid]. Netanyahu must say today that in any arrangement, the soldiers and civilians return first,” Goldin declared.

A government official said that the contacts with Hamas were only about instating a ceasefire, stating categorically that there would be no broad agreement with Gaza without the return of the Israeli civilians and soldiers’ bodies.