Israel Conditions Tunnel Rescue Aid on Progress in Return of Captives

Hamas tunnel
Brother of late Israeli soldier Oron Shaul seen at a protest tent outside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s residence in Yerushalayim in June 2016, in demand of retrieving the missing bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul from Hamas captivity. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel refused a Red Cross request for help in locating terrorists trapped inside the tunnel blown up by the IDF earlier this week, unless there is progress on the return of Israelis held hostage by Hamas.

The families of fallen soldiers Hadar Goldin, Hy”d, and Oron Shaul, Hy”d, called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to cooperate with a Hamas demand to allow the Palestinians to remove the bodies of terrorists still in the tunnel.

“We hope the Israeli government doesn’t dare accede to Hamas’s request as long as they’re not returning Oron,” the Shaul family said in a statement following reports that the Red Cross was pressing Israel to allow it to aid in the search effort.

“Oron was kidnapped into a tunnel the Hamas fighters dug, and is being held in Gaza by them for three years, while they refuse to allow the Red Cross to ascertain his situation.

“Any humanitarian gesture Israel offers Hamas must be offered on condition that our sons return home. If the Israeli government accedes to Hamas’ request, it will be a moral crime and a sign of weak diplomatic policy,” the family said.

“It is inconceivable that the Israeli government will continue giving in to Hamas’ humanitarian caprices while the terror organization continues holding captive the bodies of IDF soldiers.”

Following publication of the families’ response, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, said Thursday that Israel “would not allow the location of the terrorists in the tunnel without progress on the issue of Israeli POWs and MIAs.”