Two and a half years after IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul were murdered by Hamas terrorists in southern Israel, a new Knesset lobby was formed last week to push for tougher measures against the Hamas terror regime to force the return of their bodies to Israel.
One of the two co-chairs of the new lobby, former Defense Minister Amir Peretz (Zionist Union), spoke with Arutz Sheva regarding the new lobby, and what policies he believes Israel should pursue against Hamas to secure the return of the remains of Goldin and Shaul.
Peretz, who founded the lobby in conjunction with Jewish Home MK Shuli Mualem, emphasized the group’s non-partisan character.
“Our message with the founding of this lobby and the fact that Shuli Mualem and I are chairing it is that this is not a partisan issue; it is a uniquely sensitive [national] issue,” said Peretz.
“A state that sends its soldiers out to risk their lives is obligated to return them, whether they are alive or dead.”
The former Defense Minister laid out a number of steps which he believed could lead to the return of the remains of Goldin and Shaul from Hamas captivity.
“The international efforts [towards their release] aren’t enough. We have every reason to pressure [Hamas] via Putin on Iran and Syria,” said Peretz, referencing two of Hamas’ primary state sponsors.
“We have every reason to pressure Hamas via Egypt, and officials from the Gulf States.”
Peretz also suggested Israel may need to take a tougher stance against Hamas terrorists being held in custody in Israel, or restrict the return of terrorists’ bodies to their families.
“In terms of domestic actions, we should reconsider the cases of security prisoners, who are very difficult prisoners, if we really need to ignore the reality that our humanitarian treatment of them is really outstanding while that of Hamas ignores even the most basic concerns.”
“Even when we talk about the burial of terrorists, the right of families to bury their relatives is a very sensitive subject,” said Peretz, comparing considerations made by Israel in returning the bodies of terrorists to their families, in stark contrast to Hamas’ holding hostage the bodies of slain Israeli soldiers.
“Here, Hamas behaves in a disrespectful way that doesn’t take even basic religious concerns into account.”
Israel should, Peretz contends, begin by stripping senior Hamas terrorists held in Israeli prisons of privileges; what he deemed the terror group’s soft spot.
The moves “need to be done in a wise, thought-out way,” said Peretz, “but in a way that makes Hamas suffer.”