Dr. Leah Goldin's claims that Yaron Blum, the lead negotiator for the return of remains of two IDF soldiers held in Gaza, is lying to the families, has raised many questions about the government's conduct in the matter.
However, Blum is not the one who makes the decisions, rather Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his security cabinet are the ones who should deliver some clarifications; for instance, why was the body of a terrorist been returned to Gaza, despite previous decisions not to do so?
On the 1st of January 2017, the security cabinet agreed that pressures should be placed on Hamas until the bodies of all the Israeli missing were returned from Gaza. The idea was to squeeze Hamas to the point that it would return the remains of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, along with the Israeli civilians Avera Mangisto and Hisham al-Sayed.
The steps adopted by Israel to pressure Hamas included no return of bodies to Gaza or anyone who is identified with Hamas, prohibiting family visits to terrorists in Israeli jails, and not allowing medical care in Israel for families of Hamas operatives.
The tactic of placing endless pressures on Hamas and Gazans, until the lives of Gazans becomes so difficult, is a risky strategy which could lead to renewed conflict but it is at least a possible tactic that could bring Hamas to the negotiation table. The time has come to change the rules, and not allow Hamas to simply demand everything in return for the return of our missing.
However, it seems this tactic was never implemented. The return of a terrorist's body to Gaza would seem to show that the return of our missing is not important to anyone. Any and every possible card should be used in negotiations, to simply return the body with no breakthrough is a terrible mistake.
But, again, the answers are not with negotiator Blum, rather the PM and his cabinet owe the families of Goldin, Shaul, Mangisto and al-Sayed answers to what is being done to return their loved ones and what tactics are employed to do so. Really the main question is; is the return of these four missing young men important, and does it sit at the top of the to do list? Or has it been forgotten and we are playing for time?
Secret negotiations is not simply something done in order to say that we are doing something. The Israeli public have had enough with procrastination, they demand answers.