Missing Soldiers Return Lobby:
'Pressure Hamas prisoners and Gaza residents'

Shaul and Goldin families, senior security experts,MKs attend third Lobby conference to return sons.

Hezki Baruch ,

Lobby to Return the Soldiers
Lobby to Return the Soldiers
Hezki Baruch

The Lobby for returning soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, headed by Knesset members Shuli Mualem and Amir Peretz, held today (Tuesday) its third meeting in the Knesset.

During the meeting there was a discussion with former senior IDF officials regarding the variety of tools and fulcrums available to the Israeli government to pressure Hamas in Gaza.

Among officials who attended the hearing were Major General (retired) Avi Mizrahi, General (Ret) Noam Tivon, Col. (res) Erez Weiner, and Lt. Col. (res) Dr. Doron Avital.

During the discussion, the Chairman of the Jewish Home faction, MK Shuli Mualem said, "The return of Hadar and Oron is the fulfillment of the basic contract between the State of Israel and its soldiers who fight to protect us all. We must internalize that the goal is to bring our soldiers home and to realize that it must be done while we are engaged in a war against Hamas. We must exert continual and increasing pressure on Hamas prisoners in Israeli prisons and the population in Gaza."

She said, "We must use security, economic, and political mechanisms. It has been previously shown that pressure on the people of Gaza definitely affects Hamas. Israel should understand that keeping the calm in prisons is not the goal, but honoring the basic contract between the state and its soldiers."

Former Defense Minister Amir Peretz (Zionist camp) told the conference "Whoever sends soldiers into battle is committed to bringing them back dead or alive. All attempts to turn activity for bringing Hadar and Oron home into a political issue are invalid and must be avoided. The government mustn't take advantage of the families nobleness and continue foot-dragging on this issue. If we don't hear about any real progress at the next caucus meeting, we'll activate widespread public protest."

The father of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, Prof. Simha Goldin, told discussion participants, "In the last month, two significant concepts have collapsed: The first is that everyday people in Gaza have no influence on the Hamas military. Last month saw a demonstration of the people of Gaza against Hamas, and the Hamas military did not shoot them but made sure that Turkey and Qatar transferred diesel fuel and gas to contend with the cold wave. Also the concept that claimed a distinction between military Hamas and civilian Hamas collapsed two weeks ago when Yihye Sinwar was elected to lead Hamas Gaza."

Former Shin Bet chief, MK Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid), told the hearing, "I am sure that the subject comes up repeatedly in internal cabinet discussions but unfortunately it does not reach the implementation level. There are opportunities for Israel to bring the boys home without worsening the humanitarian situation in Gaza. I had the pleasure to arrest Yahya Sinwar 22 years ago, he understands what a deal is, and he ran the Shalit deal from inside Israeli jails."

Translated by Mordechai Sones