Families of Missing Soldiers Claim Tension With Netanyahus

YERUSHALAYIM -
Simcha Goldin, father of late Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin speaks during a press conference on Sunday. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

In a statement, Mrs. Sarah Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, said that she had never chastised Leah Goldin, mother of missing IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, Hy”d, by telling her not to join with her husband’s political enemies to create a campaign to force the government to act to bring home the remains of her son, and of missing soldier Oron Shaul.

“That conversation never took place,” a statement from Sarah Netanyahu’s aides said. “Mrs. Netanyahu went to the family’s home to comfort them for their loss together with the Prime Minister, and she met the family on several other occasions.”

Mrs. Netanyahu was responding to a report on Channel Ten that she had virtually threatened the Goldin family not to speak out against Netanyahu. According to the transcript of a conversation Channel Ten reported on, Mrs. Netanyahu two years ago told Mrs. Goldin that “joining with Netanyahu’s political enemies to obtain the release of your son will backfire, and harm his chances of coming home.” Leah Goldin had no comment on the story.

Goldin and Oron Shaul were captured by Hamas during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, and are believed to have been killed in battle. Hamas claims to have their remains, and the government has pledged time and again to retrieve those remains and bring the soldiers to kever Yisrael.

On Sunday, Zahava Shaul, mother of Oron Shaul, said in an interview that her family, along with the Goldins, were shocked when the release of her son and Hadar Goldin disappeared from the list of Israel’s conditions for its reconciliation with Turkey, after the two countries broke diplomatic relations after the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident. “Hadar and Oron were on top of the list of demands, and then they disappeared from the list,” she said. “We asked the Prime Minister about this and he told us that he had promised nothing. We disagreed, and pointed to specific promises he had made.” At that point, she said, Netanyahu got very angry at the family, accusing them of lying.

With negotiations between Israel and Hamas said to be advancing in earnest, Shaul demanded that return of the missing soldiers be made a condition for any agreement. “We must not give the Gazans a thing until they return Hadar and Oron. We have been hearing promises for four years, and now it is time to fulfill those promises,” she said.

At a press conference Sunday in the wake of a rumored deal between Israel and Hamas, the Goldin and Shaul families again demanded that the retrieval of the remains of their loved ones from the hands of Hamas remain a priority, and a condition, for any deal. In sharp comments, Leah Goldin said that talk of a ceasefire with Hamas was “scandalous as long as our children have not returned home. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who portrays himself as ‘Mr. Security,’ is acting in a traitorous manner regarding our soldiers.”

Goldin added that the families had never sought to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching Gaza, but that Netanyahu himself had promised that the return of the soldiers would be the first condition in discussions on any arrangements with Hamas. “He said that this would be a precondition for any deal,” Leah Goldin said. “This should be a test of how serious and reliable these negotiating partners are. If we don’t watch out for our soldiers, who will?”

The press conference was held on the background of reports that Israel and Hamas were ready to accept a deal to end the ongoing terror activity in southern Israel. A report on Hadashot News said that the deal would be part of an overall arrangement between Hamas, Fatah and Israel.

According to the report, the deal entails the Palestinian Authority taking over the reins of government in Gaza. Large sums of money will be invested to revive the Gaza economy. The deal includes an overall agreement with Israel, in which Hamas will pledge to lay off terror attacks for between five and ten years. Israel will release many of the terrorists in its prisons, while Hamas will return the remains of IDF soldiers it is holding, as well as two live Israelis.