Freeze in Negotiations with Hamas for Bodies of IDF Soldiers

YERUSHALAYIM - Gen. Hagai Topolanski, head of the manpower division of the general staff, has revealed that “as of today there is a freeze in negotiations for the return of the bodies of the two missing IDF soldiers, Hadar Goldin, Hy”d, and Oren Shaul, Hy”d.

Tuesday night, the Israel Democracy Institute held a memorial event for missing Israel navigator Ron Arad to mark 30 years since his fall into enemy captivity, initiated by fellow members of his air training course. The gathering took up relevant questions of negotiation for IDF soldiers, including issues of prisoner swaps.

Regarding Goldin and Shaul, who fell in the 2014 Gaza war, Topolanski noted that “as of this moment, there is a stagnation in negotiations for their bodies. After two years, we still haven’t seen a breakthrough.”

He acknowledged a difference in the level of responsibility that the state accepts in cases regarding soldiers as compared to civilians who have found themselves in such places, but that nevertheless they are committed to bringing back all of them.

David Meidan, former special representative of the government for captives, said that he was surprised to hear that Israel has so many ways to communicate with Hamas. Meidan said that after he met with Gershon Baskin, it took a month and a half to send a message to Hamas.

Regarding the expectations of the families of Goldin and Shaul, Meidan said that “Hamas understands that the more Israel pressures, the tougher they can be. We can’t ignore this. The problem today, in my opinion, is the [communication] barrier between Israel and Hamas.”