Israel will not return Hamas terrorists’ bodies

Members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, take part in a rally marking the 29th anniversary of the founding of the movement on December 16, 2016. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Israel’s Security Cabinet announced it would be burying the bodies of Hamas militants that were killed during attacks on Israelis instead of releasing them to their families.

The decision earlier this week was made following Hamas’ release of a mock birthday celebration video for an Israeli soldier who was killed by that terror organization in Gaza in 2014 and whose body they have not released to Israel.

In an online New Year’s Eve message, the military wing of Hamas the Al-Qassam Brigades, posted two video clips “to mark the 23rd birthday of the Zionist soldier and prisoner Oron Shaul.”

The official policy of the Israeli government and the IDF is that in any battle situation no soldier, either alive or deceased, will be left behind. Hamas has taken advantage of this by kidnapping Israeli soldiers and using them – dead or alive – as bargaining chips to exchange for their prisoners being held in Israeli maximum security facilities.

Though the Israeli government states officially that it refuses to negotiate with terrorist organizations, it has swapped prisoners for kidnapped soldiers on several occasions with terrorist groups and neighboring Arab nations. More than five years ago, for example, Israel exchanged 1,027 Palestinian Authority prisoners for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

Currently, Hamas is holding the remains of two soldiers, Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in an ambush situation during the 2014 Gaza conflict. In addition, two other Israeli citizens, Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, are missing, presumed alive, and being held by Hamas after crossing the border voluntarily.

The families of the Israelis being held in Gaza have been demanding that the government of Israel use the 37 bodies of Hamas terrorists as leverage in negotiating the release of their sons and brothers since 2014. Israel says that Hamas has rejected the offer.

Following the decision to bury the Hamas terrorists in Israel and not return them to Gaza, the Israeli families have expressed their outrage at their government’s apparent failure to uphold its official policy of not leaving any soldier behind.