The families of two Israeli soldiers who were killed in the 2014 Gaza war and whose remains are still being held by, launched Wednesday a public campaign to force the government to retrieve the bodies of the two from the enclave. The relatives of an Israeli citizen of Ethiopian descent, who voluntarily crossed into Gaza six years due to a mental condition, have also joined the campaign to bring the young man home.
Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul fell in combat during Operation Protective Edge, while Avera Mengistu was captured by Hamas after he entered the enclave just a week after the end of the military campaign.
The campaign was launched just three weeks before the country goes to the polls for a record third time in less than a year, on March 2, and will culminate in a rally set to be held in the southern city of Be'er Sheva on February 26, under the banner "We will no longer be silent."
The family of another Israeli citizen who is also believed held by Hamas, is not part of the campaign. Hisham Al-Sayed, a Bedouin resident of the south, has also crossed the border into the Strip, also of his own accord, back in 2015. His family claims he is also mentally unstable.
As part of the campaign, the families intend to reveal to the Israeli public the details of the long-term ceasefire arrangement with Hamas, which has been indirectly negotiated through Egyptian mediators for the past several years.
The families claim as part of the potential arrangement, the terror group that rules Gaza has been receiving goods, cash and construction material on a daily basis.
"The Hamas has been holding on to two Israeli soldiers and one mentally challenged civilian for the past five and a half years while the Israeli government makes concessions receiving nothing in return," said retired lieutenant Matan Zamir, one of the organizers of the campaign.
"In fact, the government has forsaken Hadar, Oron, and Avera."