Bodies of Soldiers Held by Hamas Will Only Be Returned Through Prisoner Swap, Israeli Official Says

Former coordinator on Israeli hostages says government is creating the misleading impression that the return of two civilians and the bodies of two soldiers can be part of main agreement being negotiated with Hamas

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Family of Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin protesting near the Gaza border, November 2018.
Family of Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin protesting near the Gaza border, November 2018.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Two Israeli civilians being held hostage and the bodies of Israeli soldiers held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip will only be returned as part of a separate deal and not as part of a main agreement under negotiation between Israel and Hamas that would ease the situation in the Strip, Lior Lotan, the former Israeli coordinator on Israeli hostages and missing soldiers, said Monday.

“The statement that we will bring back our soldiers when there is an agreement with Hamas is misleading. It will never happen,” said Lotan at a ceremony in memory of 1st Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was killed during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in the summer of 2014. Goldin’s body and that of another soldier from that summer’s fighting, Oron Shaul, are still being held by Hamas.

Haaretz Weekly Episode 33Credit: Haaretz

In Lotan’s view, a separate accord must be reached on the return of the bodies and of the Israeli civilians, Hisham al-Sayed and Abera Mengistu, who separately crossed into Gaza on their own. “I am not talking about a bad deal like the release of Gilad Shalit, but an agreement from a position of strength. To reach that point, time is not something that is working to our advantage,” he added.

Shalit was abducted in the course of his army service on the Israeli border with Gaza in 2006 and released in 2011 in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.

>> Not just Qatari cash: Why violence has subsided along Gaza-Israel border | Analysis ■ The Goldins’ revenge on Gaza’s cancer patients | Opinion ■ Three cheers for the Goldin and Shaul families | Opinion

Lotan’s statements are consistent with the position of the defense establishment. A senior defense official told Haaretz that the issue of the soldiers’ bodies and the captives “is a matter that will never happen in [the main agreement] and in exchange for humanitarian aid.” The soldiers’ bodies and the Israeli civilians being held hostage by Hamas will be returned only as part of a separate accord in which Israel returns the bodies of terrorists it holds and releases prisoners, said the official.

“Hamas will not stray from this equation,” the official remarked. “This is what leads people to go out and commit terrorist attacks. They know that what will bring them back is a deal and it is important to Hamas and the Palestinian public … It will not be possible to return the fallen and captives in return for a water desalination plant.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Prime Minister Yair Lapid, this month.

Lapid to Haaretz: ‘I Have Learned to Respect the Left’

“Dubi,” whose full name is secret in keeping with instructions from the Mossad.

The Mossad’s Fateful 48 Hours Before the Yom Kippur War

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer