Families of Israelis Killed, Missing in Gaza Protest Turkey Reconciliation

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Avera Mengistu's family holds a protest in front of the Erez Crossing in 2015.
Avera Mengistu's family holds a protest in front of the Erez Crossing in 2015.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The families of three Israelis missing in Gaza voiced criticism of Israel's impending reconciliation agreement with Turkey because it does not stipulate the return of their sons. 

The parents of two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, released separate statements slamming the deal because it does not include the return of their sons' remains from Gaza as a condition for the normalization of ties with Turkey.

Shaul's family said it would camp out in front of the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem in protest on Sunday.

"My son Oron went to fight in Gaza two years ago and didn't come back," said Shaul's mother, Zehava. "In these two years we met many times with the prime minister and he promised us there wouldn't be negotiations that didn't include Oron and Hadar Goldin." 

The family of Avera Mengistu, who went missing after crossing the border into Gaza apparently of his own volition in September 2014, came out against the agreement earlier in the week. It is planning to hold a separate protest in front of the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Sunday morning. 

Herzl and Zehava Shaul at a press conference in their home on December 28, 2014.Credit: Gil Eliahu

In its own statment, the Goldin family said that by signing the agreement, Netanyahu "would have failed the first significant test in the wake of Operation Protective Edge, and would have rewarded Hamas for kidnapping First Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul." 

The prime minister's bureau said on Saturday that Israel continues to make "overt and covert efforts" to bring back the missing civilians and recover the soldiers' remains, and that it "won't stop until the mission is accomplished." 

Shaul's parents spoke with Netanyahu on Thursday and insisted that the return of their son and Goldin be included as a precondition to a reconciliation agreement between Israel and Turkey.  They insisted that the prime minister refrain from moving forward with negotiations unless the two are returned home.

Nearly one month ago, the IDF decided to recognize Goldin and Shaul as "missing in action or captive." Goldin's status had been defined as killed in action, while Shaul was defined as killed in action whose place of burial was unknown. The difference between the two stems from the fact that parts of Goldin's body were retrieved and buried in Israel, while Shaul's body was never found.

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