Ya'alon: Returning Goldin and Shaul 'Top Priority'

Ya'alon stresses importance of returning soldiers killed in Gaza Op, but denies issue's connection to German Foreign Minister's visit.

Uzi Baruch, Cynthia Blank ,

Ya'alon during HFC Exercise
Ya'alon during HFC Exercise
Diana Hananshvili, Defense Ministry

Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon visited the Tabib school in Rishon Lezion on Monday addressing the ongoing nationwide Home Front Command war preparedness exercise

"The exercise is underway," Ya'alon told students. "We started it earlier this week, but preparations have been going for many months." 

"We will practice for when the State of Israel is in a state of emergency, for when the scenario is a scenario of war. Of course, the Home Front should also be prepared to deal with natural disasters."

Ya'alon was asked whether the visit of German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to Gaza and Israel marked any progress in negotiating the return of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul killed during Operation Protective Edge last summer.

"Certainly, the matter of returning the bodies of soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin is our top priority," Ya'alon stressed. "In this case, there is connection between the visit and this matter, but we are certainly invested in different efforts to have them buried in Israel."

Ya'alon also responded to questions on the arrest of a young Lebanese man in Cyprus and the attempt by Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah to carry out attacks against Israelis and Jews abroad. 

"The Cypriots have apparently done a good job at finding the hiding spot, out of which Hezbollah was planning attacks abroad...they found two tons of chemical material that could to be used to produce explosives," Ya'alon stated. 

"It appears, they were preparing to attack us, just as they attacked Israeli citizens abroad in the past, and possibly planning terror attacks against Jewish targets in Europe - moving from Cyrpus to any European country is easy," Ya'alon explained. 

"What is clear is that we have a terrorist organization here, Hezbollah, who does not try to hide behind a political party in Lebanon, and a terror organization supported and financed by the Iranians, and so the finger must be pointed at both Hezbollah and Iran."