High Court delays release of Gaza fisherman’s body

High Court delays release of Gaza fisherman’s body

Family of soldier whose remains are held by Hamas requested move, calls decision a 'moral order' to the Israeli government

Palestinian fishermen on a boat off the coast of the Gaza Strip, February 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinian fishermen on a boat off the coast of the Gaza Strip, February 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

The High Court on Thursday issued a temporary injunction ordering the state not to return to Gaza the body of fisherman shot dead by an IDF naval patrol last month.

Judge Neal Hendel acceded to a request from the Goldin family, whose son Hadar’s body is being held by Gaza’s terrorist Hamas rulers, along with that of another soldier, Oron Shaul. The two soldiers were killed during the war in Gaza in 2014 and their bodies have been held by Hamas ever since.

Following the ruling, the Goldin family said in a statement, “Beyond being a legal injunction, this is a moral order to the government of Israel to stop awarding prizes and gifts to Hamas at a time when it holds soldiers and citizens in… contravention of international law.

“It’s up to us, as a country, to change the balance once and for all — holding on to kidnapped people cannot be a bargaining chip but a burden for which the enemy must pay a price,” the family said.

Leah (L) and Simcha Goldin, parents of late Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin, attend a ceremony marking three years since Operation Protective Edge at the National Memorial Hall at the entrance to the military cemetery on Mount Herzl, July 13, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The injunction remains in place until the High Court convenes on March 13 to discuss the issue.

Israel, which has imposed a 10-year blockade of Gaza with the declared purpose of preventing arms smuggling, bans fishing beyond six nautical miles (11 kilometers) off the enclave’s coast. Boats exceeding that limit are intercepted by IDF patrols.

The fisherman was killed on February 25 after his boat strayed from the designated fishing zone, the army said in a statement at the time.

“The suspicious ship left the fishing zone off the northern Gaza Strip, with three suspects on it. In response, the IDF troops conducted the arrest protocol, which included calls [to stop], warning shots in the air and shots at the boat itself,” the IDF statement said. “As a result of the gunfire, one of the suspects was seriously injured and later died of his wounds.”

In addition to the bodies of Goldin and Shaul, Gaza’s Hamas rulers are holding two apparently mentally ill Israeli civilians, Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, both of whom entered the Gaza Strip of their own volition in 2015 and were taken captive by Hamas.

On Monday, the head of the army’s Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, said that the return of the two civilians and the remains of the two soldiers was a prerequisite for improving the bleak living conditions in the Strip.

Hamas insists that Israel release many convicted terrorists from prison before negotiations can even begin, which Israel refuses to do.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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