Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, asked the High Court to "allow Palestinian search and rescue teams and civil defense to enter the buffer zone on the Gaza border to extract people currently trapped underground, some 50 meters from the border fence and inside the Gaza Strip."
In its response, the state asked the High Court to reject the petition out of hand, due to the fact "it is not relevant and the assistance requested is not relevant," because the missing terrorists have been declared dead.
The state further noted that "there is operational activity that has not yet been completed. At present, IDF forces are still carrying out different operations in the field relating to the tunnel."
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, spoke to Jacques De Maio, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation to Israel, on Thursday stressing to him that Israel "would not allow search efforts in the Gaza Strip security zone without progress on the issue of Israeli POWs and MIAs."
COGAT's statement came hours after the families of Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul, whose bodies are being held by Hamas, raised objections to a request by the Palestinians to allow international forces to aid in the search for the five terrorists.
"Any Israeli humanitarian gesture toward Hamas must be conditioned on the return of our sons home," the Goldin family said. "If the Israeli government accedes to Hamas, it would constitute a moral injustice and diplomatic weakness. It cannot be that the government continues acceding to Hamas's humanitarian caprices while IDF soldiers are being held by it."
The Shaul family expressed hope that "the Israeli government doesn't dare accede to Hamas's request as long as they're not returning Oron. Oron was kidnapped into a tunnel the Hamas fighters dug, and is has been held in Gaza by them for three years, while they refuse to allow the Red Cross to ascertain his situation."
Both Shaul and Goldin, who were killed in Gaza during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, were declared fallen soldiers whose place of burial is unknown by the IDF's chief rabbi.
In response to COGAT's announcement, Hamas and Islamic Jihad declared the five missing terrorists were dead, bringing the death toll to 12, with 11 others injured.
"The demolished tunnel is not the only tunnel we have that crosses into Israel," Hamas said, stressing it would not provide information on Israel's MIAs and POWs in return for the five missing terrorists' bodies.