By R. Blum
“I don’t accept the claim that Turkey has no leverage where returning the bodies of our boys from Gaza is concerned,” the mother of deceased 23-year-old IDF lieutenant Hadar Goldin told The Algemeiner this week.
Dr. Leah Goldin was expressing her outrage and frustration at the discovery that the upcoming agreement between Jerusalem and Ankara, an official announcement about which is scheduled for Sunday evening does not mention the two young men who were abducted and killed by Hamas terrorists during a cease-fire in the midst of Operation Protective Edge – the war that Israel fought in the summer of 2014 against the Palestinian terrorist organization ruling the Gaza Strip.
“Turkey is Hamas’ patron,” she asserted. “Turkey is also a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Turkey — with the whole Mavi Marmara story — proved to us that it is the country closest to Hamas and most concerned with taking care of Hamas interests. It cannot be that Turkey has no say.”
Goldin was referring to the 2010 Free Gaza Flotilla raid that resulted in the death of 10 Turkish activists at the hands of IDF commandoes trying to defend themselves against attack on one of the ships on the way to breaking Israel’s naval blockade of the coastal enclave. It was this incident that led to a severing of diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Because of Turkey’s support for Hamas, Goldin said, negotiations that have been going on for a few years now between the governments of Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should have included a stipulation for the return of Hadar and Oron, Goldin said, revealing that her grandson is now a soldier in the Golani Brigade. “He wanted to go into the combat unit to follow in his uncle’s footsteps,” she said.
“This is not only a humanitarian issue – and an Israeli value never to leave behind soldiers in battle – but it is a crucial message to the new crops of soldiers who will have to fight in the next war,” Goldin said, expressing disappointment that the young men were not used as a condition for reaching a deal with Turkey – especially after “being told by Netanyahu on an hour-long conference call recently, that everything was being done to return them to Israel for burial, and that nobody had forgotten us.”
Netanyahu opened Sunday morning’s weekly cabinet with a similar statement.
“There is much misinformation and disinformation about the possible agreement being crystallized with Turkey,” he said. “I would therefore like to clarify that we have been making every effort, through both overt and covert means, to return to Israel Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, may their memory be blessed, as well as the two Israelis being held in Gaza [Bedouin Israeli Hisham Al-Sayed and Ethiopian-Israeli Avraham Mengistu, a mentally unstable man who crossed over into Gaza last September]. We are in continual contact with the families. And we will not rest until we return the boys home.”
In an interview with The Algemeiner on Israel’s Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism last month, Goldin explained the campaign that she and her husband, Simha – a relative of former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s – have been waging in the civil sphere to “raise awareness” at home and abroad and to alter the way bargaining with Hamas is conducted.
“Until now, Hamas has abducted soldiers and demanded a heavy price from Israel for their release. The time has come to turn that equation on its head. Rather than waiting for Hamas to demand a price from Israel, a price from Hamas must be exacted for not returning the bodies.”
According to Israel’s Channel 2, a senior government official explained that the reason that the return of the bodies was not included in the agreement with Turkey is that doing so would have provided Hamas with veto power over other elements of the deal.
In response, the Shaul family set up a protest tent outside of the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, and the families of the two Israelis still being held captive in Gaza are conducting a demonstration as well.
(c) 2016 The Algemeiner Journal