Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday asked the Red Cross to assist in the return to Israel of the bodies of Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin, both of whom went missing during the recent combat in Gaza.
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Both Shaul and Goldin have been declared soldiers killed in action whose burial places are unknown.
Shaul was killed in battle in the Gazan neighborhood of Shujaiya. Hamas made some of his personal possessions public after the battle and claimed to be holding him captive.
Gildin was killed in battle in Rafah and his body was removed by Hamas. He was originally thought to have been captured live, but was later declared dead by the Israel Defense Forces.
Netanyahu met in Jerusalem Thursday with Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross. A statement released by the prime minister's bureau after the meeting said that the premier had shown Maurer evidence of how Hamas used Gazan civilians as human shields.
Netanyahu also maintained that Hamas had used United Nations facilities for the storage and firing of rockets.
"Hamas executes everyone who dares to speak out against the catastrophe that it has brought down on the residents of Gaza," the premier said during the meeting. "Right now Hamas is preventing the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza."
He assured Maurer that Israel would do everything possible to enable the transfer of humanitarian assistance to the residents of Gaza.
Netanyahu reminded Maurer of what he had told him during their previous meeting, about a year ago: That Israel would continue to maintain international law but would not sit by idly in the face of terror organizations, and that it has the right to defend itself while acting within the bounds of international law.
"The party responsible for the tragic casualties suffered by citizens is Hamas," the premier stressed. "If Israel's right to defend itself in the face of terror is not clear, it will be an ominous signal for all democratic and moral countries, which, like us, act in accordance with international law and for the purpose of the legitimate defense of their citizens."