Hadar Goldin’s Mother Calls for US Help in Return of Son’s Body, as Hamas Open to Prisoner Swap Talks
Leah Goldin, the mother of slain IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, whose body has been held by the Hamas terror organization since he was killed in Gaza in 2014, urged the Biden administration Tuesday to help bring her son home to have a “decent burial.”
The appeal comes as Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, announced that the militant group is prepared to engage in negotiations to return Israeli civilians and bodies of slain Israeli soldiers held captive in Gaza in exchange for prisoners.
The comments were made as Egyptian intelligence officials have been meeting with Israeli officials to liaise with the Hamas leadership in Cairo on plans for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip following this month’s hostilities. Israel and Hamas reached a bilateral and unconditional ceasefire on May 21 following 11 days of fighting. At the same time, the Hamas leadership reportedly does not want to link potential prisoner exchange talks with the rehabilitation of Gaza.
“Americans are leading the process and the Egyptians will do the delivery. For us it is now a window of opportunity to request the help of the Americans as they know how to do it because they did it in North Korea,” Goldin said at an online conference by the Jerusalem Press Club. “The US President requested the release of US hostages before meeting with the North Korean President. Now they are taking the clock backwards with respect in the Iranian agreement and request the release of American hostages. So now is the actual time to request from President Biden who was vice president to the Obama administration in 2014 to bring my son home.”
Hadar Goldin, a Lieutenant in the Givati Brigade of the IDF, was 23 years old when he was killed on August 1, 2014 by Hamas terrorists — two hours after a ceasefire was declared in the Protective Edge War in Gaza. Hamas members acting in violation of international humanitarian law dragged him into an underground tunnel deep into Gaza, where he continues to be held hostage by the militant group until today.
“The last war was imposed on us by the Hamas. We are now in the process of negotiations of agreements after another ceasefire,” Goldin said. “This is the time to approach the international community and especially the US and request that they rectify the problem of the previous ceasefire, return our boys as a confidence building step to the new ceasefire if they want to have credibility for whatever they call ceasefire.”
Hamas also holds the body of slain IDF soldier Shaul Oron, as well as two Israeli citizens who entered Gaza and were captured.
Speaking at the conference, Col. (Res.) Lior Lotan — Israel’s former chief negotiator to repatriate hostages, who led efforts to return Goldin and Shaul between 2014-2017 from Hamas — argued that the Israeli government needs to use the current situation as an opportunity to change the equation.
“We managed to repatriate our boys only in one method through an agreement with the terrorist organization and through an exchange of releasing prisoners. All prisoners are terrorists, sentenced and serving time in jail,” said Lotan. “Now we have an opportunity for a change of strategy towards Hamas to repatriate our boys not in exchange of the tremendous price of thousands of prisoners but in exchange of other elements that are now being discussed.”
“We have a leverage which is not only the military reality in the area of Gaza but the leverage is also the aspiration of Hamas to be part of the region to be a player of political acts in the region. What the Israeli government needs to do is to connect all items – humanitarian needs, civilians, rehabilitation in Gaza, political and security measures – at one table, under one delegation for true concessions and in exchange for the return of soldiers’ bodies and civilians,” Lotan added.
“Until then there is no importance at all for what Hamas declares. The key is on the Israeli side,” he concluded.