Hamas rejects deal to return soldiers' bodies

POWs and MIAs coordinator Lior Lotan reveals that Hamas has rejected a deal for the return of the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

The parent of Hadar Goldin
The parent of Hadar Goldin
Photo: Yoni Kempinski

The Prime Minister's office coordinator for POWs and MIAs, Lior Lotan, revealed this afternoon (Tuesday) that the Hamas terror group has rejected an Israeli offer of a prisoner exchange that would include the missing Israeli citizens and the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.

Colonel (Res.) Lotan participated in the international conference at the IDC Herzliya Counter-Terrorism Institue and told of the ongoing efforts to facilitate the return of the IDF soldier's bodies, as well as missing citizens Avera Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayed.

According to Lotan, Israel has made two parallel offers of a deal to facilitate the return of the soldier's bodies and the citizens, and Hamas has rejected both.

"Since the end of operation Protective Edge Israel has been acting through several channels to try to bring our boys home," said Colonel Lotan, "there were also the cases of citizens who were sick and suffering from mental fatigue who crossed the border to Gaza and are being held by Hamas. These are innocent civilians who had no involvement in the fighting.

"The Hamas people know their condition. This isn't a political or security matter, Israel has utilized all the means to prove that it's a humanitarian matter," Lotan explained.

The first deal offered to Hamas through several channels, according to Lotan, was the release of all prisoners and bodies captured by the IDF during Protective Edge in return for the soldier's bodies.

The POWs and MIAs coordinator continued: "Another offer was to return all the citizens who crossed from Gaza to Israel of their own volition in return for our citizens who've crossed into Gaza. These kinds of exchanges are accepted as the norm all over the world, at the end of a conflict you exchange the bodies and prisoners. In an unprecedented move, Hamas rejected the offer."

The sticking point was a Hamas demand for the release of terrorist prisoners who have no connection to Protective Edge. "Naturally we can't accept this kind of precondition. We have enough ways and methods to continue forward.

"Hamas doesn't think the way an organization with a political infrastructure usually thinks. I mean an organization that controls a population. While the Gazan population demands these humanitarian norms of conduct, Hamas behaves in precisely the opposite fashion."

Lotan sent a message to the residents of Gaza: "It's important that the family of a dead Hamas combatant who personally participated in kidnapping Hadar Goldin and dragging his body to the cave, knows and understands this. It's important that the family of a Hamas prisoner who could have been coming home now, knows and understands this. It's important for the residents of Gaza to understand this, Hamas is selling them out. We will do everything we can to bring our boys back. The mission is clear, and we have the means and the experience. We will succeed in this."

The Goldin family responded to Lotan's comments, saying that "Israel needs to explain to Hamas that there are no free lunches or free deals. The way to bring Oron and Hadar home is by applying serious pressure on Gaza and on Hamas.

"When Hamas understands that it has something to lose in the realms of international relations, rebuilding and developing the Gaza Strip, and its financial situation, it will also return Hadar and Oron," the Goldin family stated.