On Friday, Hamas rejected Israel’s offer to allow them to enter Israel to retrieve the bodies of five terrorists killed in a tunnel that crossed the border into Israel. Israel’s requirement was simple and clearly quid pro quo; some form of progress in negotiations for the return of the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in the last war with Gaza.
On Monday, the IDF blew up another tunnel from Gaza that extended across the border into Israel. The tunnel was part of an ongoing Hamas agenda that led to the war with Israel in 2014. Hamas is usurping millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to build these tunnels in an effort to kill Israeli citizens. Gaza’s Health Ministry reported that seven Palestinian terrorists — including two senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commanders and two members of Hamas’s elite naval unit — were killed and twelve others injured in the explosion.
Hamas believes there are still five bodies buried in the rubble and requested intervention by the International Committee of the Red Cross to coordinate with Israel an operation in which Hamas members would enter the buffer zone on the border between Israel and Gaza to search for the bodies.
According to a statement by Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli Defense Ministry branch that liaises with the Palestinians on civil and security affairs, “Israel will not allow search operations in the area of the security barrier in the Gaza Strip without progress on the issue of Israelis kidnapped and MIAs.”
Mahmoud al-Zahar, one of the founders of Hamas, said “We will not provide any information in exchange for locating those missing,” according to reports in Hebrew-language media. “As far as we are concerned, they are buried in their own country.”
On Friday, the Justice Ministry released a legal brief stating that it wasn’t the “duty of the government to allow the terrorist organizations operating in Gaza to collect the bodies of its terrorists.”
The families of the Israeli soldiers whose bodies are being held by Hamas came out with powerful statements against acceding to Hamas demands.
“We hope that the Israeli government will not dare to comply with Hamas’s request as long as they do not return Oron,” said the family of soldier Shaul Oron. “Oron was kidnapped through a tunnel that Hamas dug, and for more than three years has been held by them in Gaza, and yet they do not allow the Red Cross to check on his condition.”
Oron was killed in July 2014 when an anti-tank missile hit the armored personnel carrier his unit was in.The capture of Oron’s body set off mass celebrations in Gaza and the West Bank.
“Any Israeli humanitarian gesture toward Hamas must be contingent on bringing our boys home. If Israel responds [positively] to Hamas, it would be a moral injustice and a sign of political weakness,” said the family of Hadar Goldin, another soldier killed by Hamas and whose body has not been turned over.
Goldin was fighting in Gaza in August 2014 when his unit discovered a Hamas tunnel. They were working on decommissioning it when a Hamas terrorist detonated an explosive, killing himself and two IDF soldiers including Goldin. Other Hamas terrorists seized Goldin’s body and the IDF was unable to retrieve it.
In the past, Israel has conducted numerous exchanges in which hundreds of terrorists were released for a few Israeli bodies.
Source: Israel in the News