Arutz Sheva Exclusive
'Apply compelling pressure to Hamas - make them suffer'

Ex-Defense Minister Amir Peretz tells Arutz Sheva, 'Israel has many ways to force Hamas to return murdered soldier's remains.'

Shimon Cohen,

MK Amir Peretz
MK Amir Peretz

Two and a half years after IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul were murdered by Hamas terrorists in southern Israel, a new Knesset lobby was formed last week to push for tougher measures against the Hamas terror regime to force the return of their bodies to Israel.

One of the two co-chairs of the new lobby, former Defense Minister Amir Peretz (Zionist Union), spoke with Arutz Sheva regarding the new lobby, and what policies he believes Israel should pursue against Hamas to secure the return of the remains of Goldin and Shaul.

Peretz, who founded the lobby in conjunction with Jewish Home MK Shuli Mualem, emphasized the group’s non-partisan character.

“Our message in founding this lobby, together with the fact that Shuli Mualem and I are chairing it, is that this is not a partisan issue; it is a uniquely sensitive national issue,” said Peretz.

“A state that sends its soldiers out to risk their lives is obligated to bring them back, whether they are alive or dead.”

The former Defense Minister laid out a number of steps which he believed could lead to the return of Goldin and Shaul's remains from Hamas captivity.

“The international efforts towards their release aren’t enough. We have every cause to pressure Hamas via Putin pressure on Iran and Syria,” said Peretz, referencing two of Hamas’ primary state sponsors.

“We have every ground to pressure Hamas via Egypt, and officials from the Gulf States.”

Peretz also suggested Israel may need to take a tougher stance against Hamas terrorists being held in Israeli custody, or deny the return of terrorists’ bodies to their families.

“In terms of internal steps, we should reconsider security prisoner's cases - who are hardened criminals - whether we should indeed disregard the fact that our humanitarian treatment of them is quite outstanding while that of Hamas ignores even the most basic concerns.”

“Also when speaking of terrorist's burials, family's rights to bury their relatives is a very sensitive subject,” said Peretz, contrasting Israeli consideration in returning terrorist's bodies to their families with Hamas’ holding slain Israeli soldier's remains hostage.

“Here, Hamas behaves despicably in not taking even basic religious concerns into account.”

Peretz contends that Israel should begin by stripping privileges enjoyed by senior Hamas terrorists held in Israeli prisons, which he deems to be the terror group’s vulnerability, and to continue assessing other pressures Israel should use “sensibly and with foresight, but in a way that makes Hamas suffer.”