Oron Shaul hy"d
Oron Shaul hy"d IDF Spokesman / President's Residence

The State of Israel must ramp up pressure on Hamas to return the bodies of slain IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, MK Eliezer Stern (Yesh Atid) stated Monday - but through a balanced approach, not via terrorist releases. 

Stern, who is close to the Shaul family, began by noting that the government has been actively engaged in trying to return Goldin's and Shaul's bodies. While the families are aware of some of the State of Israel's efforts, some remain classified. 

While Zahava Shaul turned directly to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh during an emotional press conference Sunday night, he added, Haniyeh is actually not responsible for holding the soldiers' bodies. 

"We need to move to the next level and present a different kind of pressure, such as preventing visits to Hamas prisoners in Gaza," Stern urged, in an interview Monday with 103.5FM

Stern noted, as well, that while the actual fates of Shaul and Goldin remain unclear, the State remains certain both soldiers died during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza - despite not physically seeing either soldier's bodies. 

"The defense establishment has various departments which have that role [of determining a captured soldier's status - ed.]," Stern asserted. "There are intelligence agencies and remains found in the area which were tested by technological and medical institutions."

"It was based on the basis as well of the declaration of the chief military rabbi, who approved them to sit shiva," he added. But Stern opined that that decision was "wrong." 

"He should have let them conduct a full funeral with the parts that were found," Stern stated. "A family who has a grave prepared, but who are waiting for the body to be brought back from the other side, will continue to demand to make efforts to return the body - but it's different than a family waiting for a soldier who's alive on the other side." 

"What Zahava is asking for here is proof that he [Oron - ed.] is alive because Hamas is playing a nasty game," he reflected. Hamas has led her to believe that there's a small chance that Oron is alive, he said, despite the fact that several family members know for sure he is not - and have attempted to explain that to her. 

As for Hamas's rejection of the plea to strike a deal, Stern noted that the group simply could not prove that Shaul was alive. 

"I told them right from day one, take into consideration that whoever listens to them is not only the Jewish people and the Prime Minister, but Hamas - whose goal is not to make right by Zahava Shaul, but to do them wrong, just like they want to [do wrong by] all Israeli citizens." 

Stern proposed that the State offer incentives to improve living conditions in Gaza in exchange for the soldiers' bodies. 

"There should be sticks and carrots here," he said. "Sticks: I would begin by [banning] family visits to Hamas prisoners from Gaza; and carrots - to offer to give more [humanitarian aid - ed.] to Gaza residents if they return the bodies." Stern added that he has already spoken with Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) over the issue.