Zehava Shaul is doubling down on her accusation that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called her and her late husband “liars” despite the denial issued by the Prime Minister’s Office earlier Sunday.
“Everything I said is true. And it is OK that he (Netanyahu) believes that what he is saying is true. You can ask the Goldin family as well, they were with us at the private meeting,” said Shaul.
At a press conference convened by the Shaul and Goldin families Sunday morning, Zehava Shaul said that "Some two months before my husband's death, we met with Prime Minister Netanyahu who yelled at us and hurled accusations at us. He called us liars. Until that meeting, (my husband) Herzl had full confidence in the system and believed the promises made by the prime minister. This meeting was the straw that broke the camel's back."
The Prime Minister's Office denied Shaul's claims, saying "Prime Minister Netanyahu has never yelled at bereaved families or hurled accusations at them; the same is true for the Shaul family. The prime minister will continue making every effort until their sons return home."
After the press conference, some 30 activist joined the Goldin and Shaul families at a protest outside of the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. Oron Shaul’s mother called on the government to “wake up” and ensure no ceasefire agreement is signed with Hamas without the return of Oron and the other Israelis being held in Gaza.
IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin were killed in two separate incidents during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge and Gaza, and their bodies have been captured by Hamas. Three Israelis citizens—Avera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed and Jumaa Ibrahim Abu-Ghanima—entered the strip of their own volition on three separate occasions, and are all believed to be alive and held by Hamas as well.
The families say that they do not believe that the government is making a real effort to return their sons. “I will not be silent until my son is here. I did not send Oron on Operation Protective Edge, it was the prime minister who sent him, and it is he who has the responsibility to return him,” Shaul said. “Any agreement with Hamas that does not include Oron and Hadar is, as far as I’m concerned, a capitulation to Hamas.”
“I thought that the prime minister would understand us because he too lost a brother,” said Oron’s brother Aviram. “I realize that I am mistaken and apparently nobody cares. This is a fateful decision that must be settled now, they know how to send (into battle) but not how to return them; it is a disgrace.”
The Security Cabinet is expected to meet Sunday evening to discuss a comprehensive Gaza ceasefire agreement brokered by the Egyptians and the UN Envoy to the region Nickolay Mladenov.
Senior members of Hamas visited the strip over the weekend to discuss the implementation of such an agreement with Israel, which is expected to improve the lives of Gaza residents as well as launch major projects such as a sea port in Ismailiya, Egypt, and an airport in the Sinai, both benefitting Gazans.
The Shaul and Goldin families are angry at what they see as the government’s determination to rebuild Gaza instead of “destroying the enemy.” They say that despite the prime minister’s verbal commitment to condition any progress in Gaza on the return of their sons, the government does not seem to pressing the issue in its negotiations.
A senior official stated that the negotiations are regarding a ceasefire. “Any comprehensive agreement will not take place without a solution to the Israelis being held in Gaza.”
“Hamas is undergoing a serious crisis,” said cabinet Minister Yoav Galant. “This is causing them to seek a new way forward. If it is calm and the missing (are returned) then we must surely agree to (an agreement with Hamas) as our interest is not to fight in Gaza.”