No cease-fire with Hamas without return of Israeli soldiers’ bodies, Netanyahu tells their families


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the parents of two soldiers whose bodies are held in Gaza that Israel will not agree to a cease fire with the ruling Hamas without the return of the soldiers’ remains.

But the family of one of the dead soldiers said in a statement after the face-to-face meeting on Monday, the first in several months, that Netanyahu has not done enough to return their son to Israel for a proper burial.

“To our regret, other than general statements and empty remarks, which are intended for public relations, Netanyahu still has not done anything significant to return the boys,” said the statement from Simcha and Leah Goldin, parents of Shaul, who was killed during the 2014 Gaza War.

“Four years after the kidnapping, Netanyahu is not demanding the boys be returned and again is agreeing to a ceasefire which Hamas can choose when to violate and when to kidnap more soldiers,” the statement also said.

The body of Oron Shaul, also killed in the 2014 Gaza War, also is being held in Gaza. His relatives reportedly also attended the meeting.

A statement issued after the meeting by the Prime Minister’s Office said that Netanyahu “met with the Goldin and Shaul families and told them that there would be no arrangement in the Gaza Strip without the return of the boys.”

Three other Israelis, who voluntarily entered Gaza, also are believed to be held by Hamas there.

Israel’s border with Gaza has remained relatively quiet over the last two weeks after more than three months of protests surrounding the March of Return and weeks of Gaza rockets being fired at Israel and incendiary balloons and kites sent from Gaza burning thousands of acres of agricultural and woodlands in southern Israel.

Egypt and the United Nations are said to be brokering a long-term ceasefire that would include a reconciliation deal between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in Gaza.


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