The twin brother of Hadar Goldin, whose body was abducted by hamas after he was killed in Operation Protective Edge, spoke to Ynet Wednesday shortly after reports emerged that Israel had made a number of proposals to secure his brother’s release.
“At the moment I only see Hamas demands,” Tzur Goldin said in response to Hamas’s military wing, which commented for the first time on alleged talk of prisoner exchange deals between Israel and the terror group.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Hamas’s military arm said that Israel had made suggestions through mediators to obtain the release of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who met the same fate in Gaza, and other Israelis being held by Hamas, but that the “the formulation suggested by Israel did not meet the minimum demands.” So far, Israel has refused to comment on the report.
“I don’t see any demands at the decision-making level in Israel from the organization,” Tzur said who said that his family had serious misgivings about reports in the media.
“We have learned to not be impressed by talk, rumors and headlines,” the family said. “We are continuing the demand from the Israeli government to use the full range of its tools to exert intense pressure on Hamas. Only this kind of pressure will bring about results. Anything else is just talk.”
In practice, nothing is being done on the ground, Hadar’s brother continued. “A negotiation has to take place but the question is what is the stand. Netanyahu knows exactly what needs to be done and what steps need to be taken in order for the State of Israel goes to the negotiation from a position of power and strength, and not as a state that capitulates to a neighborhood bully.”
“A terror organization that controls 1.9 million civilians, stands in political isolation, and there is international legitimacy to exert political and economic pressure on it until it abides by the demands.”
Tzur also lamented the comparatively luxurious conditions afforded to Hamas prisoners in Israeli prisoners by the government which refrains from taking a stronger stance.
“Hamas have to be forced to understand that kidnappings and holding on to soldiers who drafted into the IDF is a burden rather than an asset,” he added. “Mediators are not enough ... I don’t think the Israeli public is very happy with what is happening.”
He also scorned the government, accusing it of choosing to ignore the soldiers’ fate. “There has never been a government that so conspicuously ignores soldiers imprisoned by a terror organization. Soon enough we will reach three years since the abduction of my brother who is actually situated a total of one-and-a-half hours from Tel Aviv.”
In recent days, a Hamas security delegation visited Egypt in an effort to achieve a reconciliation between the two sides.
Egyptian officials, speaking to the London-based newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, claimed that the Egyptians used the meeting as an opportunity to ask the Hamas delegation—which included the deputy leader of the military wing, Marwan Issa—to open a dialogue on the matter of the missing Israelis being held in Gaza, which also includes Abera Mengistu, a mentally ill Israeli who voluntarily crossed the border.
It is believed that, if the report is true, the request was made at the request of the Israelis.
Shaul and Goldin were both killed during Operation Protective Edge while Mengistu, a 29 year old of Ethiopian descent from Ashkelon, voluntarily crossed the border into Gaza.
Three months after, Hisham al-Sayed, a Bedouin resident of southern Israel, who is known to be mentally ill, also crossed the border.
Last July, Jumaa Ibrahim Abu-Ghanima, from the unrecognized Bedouin village of Hasham Zana in the Negev, also crossed the border into Gaza of his own volition.
The Israeli-Arabic language newspaper Kul al-Arab reported last month that according to a Hamas source, Qatar mediated between the terror organization and Israel on a possible new prisoner exchange deal, which would see the return of Goldin and Shaul’s bodies along with the return of Mengistu and the two other Israeli citizens.
According to the report, Hamas placed conditions on even starting negotiations which included the release of 60 prisoners who were incarcerated once again after being released in the Shalit Deal.
For its part, Israel was reported to have changed its policy of categorically rejecting any possibility of releasing prisoners and agreed to set them free on the condition that they be expelled to the Gaza Strip or Qatar.
Hamas rebuffed this condition however, the report said, but the organization denied any Qatari-led mediations. “There is no mediation on this matter, not to mention no intervention of Qatar.”
Similarly, Zahava Shaul, the mother of Oron Shaul, added: “I expect the ministers of the government of Israel and its head to act as though it is their children who are being held by Hamas. We hope to see Oron at home soon, and we will not rest until he is.”