Families of Israelis Killed, Missing in Gaza: Turkey Deal Is a Capitulation to Hamas

'It's inconceivable that they'll act this way when there are two soldiers in the hands of Hamas. Is natural gas more important?' asks mother of soldier Oron Shaul.

The parents of missing Israeli Avera Mengistu protest in Jerusalem on Wednesday, June 29, 2016.
Olivier Fitoussi

The families of fallen soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul joined those of an Israeli missing in Gaza to harshly criticize the Israel's approval of the reconciliation agreement with Turkey, and clarified they will continue to oppose the deal.

The families are protesting in a campout in front of the prime minister's residence that the reconciliation agreement with Turkey, which was approved by the security cabinet on Wednesday, does not include the return of their sons’ bodies. The soldiers were killed in the 2014 Gaza war, but their remains have not yet been recovered for burial.

Tzur Goldin, the brother of Hadar Goldin, said that "[they] signed an agreement that encourages terror and awards Hamas for abducting IDF soldiers. The statement that this is the only possible agreement isn’t true. It's a capitulation to all of the demands Hamas raised during Operation Protective Edge," he said, referring to the 2014 Gaza war.

According to him, "there are interests in the agreement that aren’t national ones. The national interest is that the Israel do everything to return the soldiers. That's the first national interest. I reject the prime minister's comment that that he will establish a committee that will work to return the boys. For us, this is stonewalling, nothing happened for two years and now a committee is being established. The equation must be changed, making the enemy pay a price for kidnapping."

Ayelet Goldin, his sister, said that "the agreement was carried out in a very undemocratic process. It was signed before it was approved by the cabinet. The ministers realized in the last few days that the responsibility for returning the soldiers is their personal responsibility, that national resilience is in their hands." 

Zehava Shaul, the mother of Oron Shaul, said that "I've come here to talk about the government and cabinet members' conduct. It's inconceivable that they'll act this way when there are two soldiers in the hands of Hamas. Is the natural gas more important?" she asked, referring to claims that mutual natural gas interests spurred Israel and Turkey to reach a deal.

The families said that they hope that revisions will be made to the agreement on Sunday, and that they demand that a humanitarian clause stipulating that any aid to Gaza will be contingent on returning the soldiers be added.

Zehava Shaul added that if that doesn’t happen, the family will act "in a more dramatic way." She added, "we can't give up on our sons for an agreement with Erdogan," referring to the Turkish president.

Ilan Mengistu, the brother of Avera Mengistu, who went missing after crossing the border into Gaza apparently of his own volition in September 2014, said that "the ministers who approved the agreement in the cabinet should be ashamed of themselves." He added, "apparently there are those who are under political pressure, they have a personal interest."

Mengistu said that the family intends to carry on fighting, and that he was surprised by the agreement's approval of the agreement. "They deceived us, even though they identified [with us]."

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Wednesday that his "heart goes out to the Goldin and Shaul families."

Erdan said he met with these families this past week "and heard their complaints. I promised them I would ask tough questions at the cabinet session before making a decision. And so I did.

"My heart also goes out the family of Avera Mengistu who is still being held in Gaza," he said. "We ought to do a lot more to bring these boys home."