The High Court of Justice gave the state 10 days Monday to respond to a petition filed by the bereaved family of an IDF soldier whose body is being held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas terrorist group.
The family of Lt. Hadar Goldin requested that the court order the government to implement the “plan of action” adopted by the security cabinet earlier this year that called for further pressure to be levied against Hamas until the bodies of Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul, along with four living Israelis being held in the Palestinian territory, are returned.
Although the security cabinet provided no details on the plan when it was adopted in January, a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office at the time said Israel will no longer return the bodies of Hamas terrorists killed during attacks and will instead bury them.
The Goldins’ petition was the latest move by the family in its public campaign for the return of their son’s body, which has included the release of a video urging the government to up its pressure on Hamas until Goldin and Shaul’s bodies are returned.
In addition to Goldin and Shaul, whose bodies were captured when they were killed in Gaza during the 2014 war between Israel and the terror group, Hamas is also though to be holding four Israeli citizens — Avraham Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, Juma Ibrahim Abu Ghanima and an unnamed person — all of whom entered the enclave on their own accord.
The filing of the petition also came a day after the Israel Defense Forces announced it had recovered the bodies of five Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists that were buried last week when the IDF destroyed a Gazan attack tunnel that crossed into Israeli territory.
Following the announcement, the Goldin family called on the government to withhold the bodies until the remains of their son were returned, and threatened to take the case to the High Court in order to prevent it.
“Instead of levying a heavy price on Hamas and steamrolling it, they tell us in meetings that the next missiles on Sderot, Ashdod and Ashkelon will be because of the pressure we want to put in place. Enough excuses — it’s time for action,” said Hadar Goldin’s mother, Lea.
Prime Minister Netanyahu on Monday vowed to bring back the Israelis being held by Hamas, signaling he would use bodies of Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists held by Israel as leverage.
In an event in the northern town of Migdal Haemek, Netanyahu said he would not give any “free gifts” to Israel’s enemies.
“A government has two major tasks,” Netanyahu said. “The first is to protect the country and the second is to build the land. We are doing both these things together. We protect the land with a simple rule — anyone who tries to attack us, we attack them. And second, we do not give free gifts. We will bring our boys back home. There are no free gifts.”
Palestinian Islamic Jihad said on Sunday it would not negotiate for the return of the bodies of its men, and threatened violence, saying that Israel “will not be able to bargain over our fighters.”