According to reports, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) clarified today, in private conversations, that he has no intention of bargaining with Hamas for the return of the bodies of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin.
Shaul and Goldin were both killed during Operation Protective Edge, Israel's push to rid Gaza of terrorism and smugglers tunnels. Hamas has been holding their bodies since, in the hope of trading their bones for the freedom of live terrorists and murderers.
"By my estimation, the bodies of the soldiers will not be returned to Israel, I don't see it happening. I was also against the Shalit deal in the past, and I don't intend to cut a deal with Hamas in the future," the Defense Minister said, according to Channel 10.
In 2011, Israel made an agreement with Hamas to exchange captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit for the release of 1,027 terrorists - 280 of whom had been sentenced to life in prison for planning and perpetrating terror attacks against Israelis. Since then, many of the released terrorists have returned to terror activities against Israelis, including the murders of Malachi Rosenfeld and Danny Gonen.
In the past, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised to do all he could to return the fallen soldiers' bodies to their families. "Protective Edge includes a deep obligation to bring home Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and Sergeant Oron Shaul. The task stands before me. I will not let it go, and we will complete it even if it takes time," stated the Prime Minister.
The bereaved Goldin family responded, "The Defense Minister, who is choosing to give up on...the return of the soldiers from the field of battle, has no moral authority to continue and direct as Defense Minister of the State of Israel. We call on the Prime Minister to clarify, both to the Defense Minister and the Israeli public, the government's position in relation to the return home of Hadar and Oron."
On the flip side, Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamad, a leader of the Religious Zionist movement, supports Liberman's choice.
"Liberman should be praised, not condemned, for his clear and correct position against deals with the terror organization Hamas," Rabbi Melamed emphasized.
"I am certain that the Defense Minister, like all Israeli citizens, puts out every effort to bring back the bodies of the soldiers, but not through deals like the Shalit deal - which Jews paid for with their lives."