The parents of an IDF soldier whose body has been held by Hamas in Gaza since the 2014 war appealed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to include mention of their son’s fate in a resolution being voted on Thursday in the UN General Assembly.
If adopted, the resolution would be the first General Assembly vote to condemn the Palestinian terrorist group.
The latest draft of the resolution, entitled “Activities of Hamas and Other Militant Groups in Gaza,” also makes explicit mention of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another terror group with a significant presence in the Gaza Strip.
The draft “condemns Hamas for repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk” and demands that “Hamas and other militant actors including Palestinian Islamic Jihad cease all provocative actions and violent activity, including by using airborne incendiary devices.” It further condemns Hamas’s use of resources in Gaza to “construct military infrastructure, including tunnels to infiltrate Israel and equipment to launch rockets into civilian areas, when such resources could be used to address the critical needs of the civilian population.”
But it does not mention the two Israeli civilians and two bodies of fallen soldiers held by Hamas in the territory. The civilians, both believed to be mentally ill — Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed — entered Gaza of their own volition in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The two soldiers are Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, both killed in the 2014 Israel-Gaza war.
In a letter to Netanyahu, Leah and Simcha Goldin note, “In an unusual step, and after a great deal of effort, the American administration is bringing for the UN General Assembly’s approval a sharp message of rebuke at Hamas’s activities in Gaza.
“It’s inconceivable that such a condemnation does not include the IDF soldiers that Hamas is holding in Gaza,” they charge.
Addressing the General Assembly’s annual debate on the “Question of Palestine” on Thursday, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon urged the international community to vote in favor of condemning Hamas for the first time in the body’s history.
“Every year, the United Nations adopts at least 20 resolutions specifically to condemn Israel. Not a single one of these resolutions or any GA resolution at all has ever included Hamas,” he said.
The draft resolution also calls on all parties to fully respect international humanitarian law, “including in regards to the protection of the civilian population.”
It encourages “tangible steps towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation,” as well as “concrete steps to reunite the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority and ensure its effective functioning in the Gaza Strip.”
On Wednesday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh sent an open letter to General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa and to its member states, slamming the US-sponsored resolution, arguing it was meant to “delegitimize Palestinian resistance.”
“We in the Islamic Resistance Movement — Hamas are following with great anger and condemnation the ongoing and miserable efforts by the United States of America, not only by adopting the Israeli narrative of the conflict, but also by providing all the necessary material and moral support for the Israeli occupation to continue its aggression against our people and deprive them of their basic rights of freedom, independence and self-determination, guaranteed by all international conventions and laws,” Haniyeh wrote in the letter.
“We stress the necessity to work hard to thwart the American efforts to condemn the resistance at the UN General Assembly,” the letter added.
Israel’s envoy to the world body, Danny Danon, responded to the Hamas letter by saying that “a terrorist organization going to the UN for assistance is like a serial killer asking the police for assistance.
“Hamas speaks about international law while it fires rockets into civilian populations, holds the bodies of IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens, and uses its own people as human shields,” Danon said.
Last month, Israel denied reports that progress had been achieved in indirect talks with Hamas for a prisoner swap with Israel. Quoting unnamed Egyptian diplomatic sources, the UAE-based Khaleej Online said a German mediator has held secret talks in the Middle East in recent weeks to help advance a potential prisoner exchange.
The report said Israel consented to Hamas’s demand for the release of Palestinians who have been rearrested since they were freed in 2011 as part of a deal in which Israel exchanged 1,027 terrorists for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured and held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip or five years.
The news site named the German mediator as Ernst Orlau, an intelligence official who was involved in the Shalit deal and other exchange talks between Israel and regional terror groups. The sources quoted in the report linked the progress on a potential prisoner swap to efforts to reach a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
The report was later denied by an Israeli diplomatic official.