Hamas won’t talk directly with the families of two soldiers killed in last summer’s war in the Gaza Strip, an unnamed Hamas official told Army Radio Monday morning, rebuffing a plea by the mother of an IDF soldier for proof about his condition.
The Hamas official said that the Palestinian terror group controlling the Gaza Strip would only engage in indirect negotiations with the Israeli government, as it has in the past.
Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul and First Lieutenant Hadar Goldin were among the 66 soldiers who were killed during last summer’s 50-day Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza, but their bodies have yet to be recovered.
Hamas is believed to be holding the remains of the two soldiers and told The Times of Israel on Sunday that it was willing to reveal information on them if Israel releases some of its operatives currently being held in prison.
At a press conference held at the Shaul home in the northern town of Poria on Sunday, the family implored Hamas to provide them with evidence. Addressing Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh directly, Shaul’s mother Zehava said, “Give us concrete evidence on Oron’s actual condition. The moment we have proof, I promise you that we will turn the country — and the world — upside down to make sure the deal actually happens,”
Although Israel has classified the two soldiers as “killed in action,” Hamas tried to create ambiguity over their current status, using the families’ hopes as leverage to get their men out of Israeli jails.
In this, Hamas produced a letter on Sunday which it claimed had been written by Shaul himself.
Hamas was scheduled to hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Monday morning to mark the 28th anniversary of the terror group’s founding. Officials were expected to make statements concerning the remains of the two soldiers.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.