Zehava Shaul, the mother of fallen IDF soldier Oron Shaul who was killed in Gaza and captured by Hamas, said Sunday she lost faith in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after he called her and her late husband Herzl “liars.”
“Some two months before my husband’s death, we met with Prime Minister Netanyahu who yelled at us and hurled accusations at us. He called us liars,” Shaul said. “Until that meeting, Herzl had full confidence in the system and believed the promises made by the prime minister. This meeting was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
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“Before he died, Herzl left me with his will—to no longer believe the promises and do whatever we can to bring Oron home.”
Herzl Shaul lost the battle to cancer two years ago. His wife said “the longing and the uncertainty about the fate of his son, as well as the crisis of trust in the Israeli government” exacerbated to his illness.
The Prime Minister’s Office denied Shaul’s claims, saying “Prime Minister Netanyahu has never yelled at bereaved families or hurled accusations at them, the same is true for the Shaul family. The prime minister will continue making every effort until the sons return home.”
Shaul made her claims at a joint press conference on Sunday morning with the families of fallen IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, whose fate was similar to that of Shaul, and the family of Jumaa Ibrahim Abu-Ghanima, who is believed to be alive and in Hamas hands after entering Gaza of his own accord.
After the press conference at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Jerusalem, the families marched toward the Prime Minister’s Office along with some 30 protesters and demanded to meet with Netanyahu amid reports a ceasefire deal with Hamas is imminent.
The protesters blocked the car of Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, and shouted “Corrupted, go home!”
Later, the families plan to protest outside the Prime Minister’s Residence while the Security Cabinet meets to discuss the deal, which reportedly does not include any guarantees on the return of the remains of the soldiers and the missing Israelis.
Zehava Shaul vowed “to do whatever is in my power, despite my problematic health, to bring Oron home,” and called on the government not to negotiate with Hamas or sign any agreement with “a lowly and cruel organization that kidnapped Oron and Hadar, our best sons and soldiers, who were protecting the homeland.”
She also called on Israeli citizens to “join the moral struggle and aid us in preventing the Israeli government from signing a ceasefire agreement with Hamas that does not include the precondition of returning the sons home.”
“Don’t let the Israeli government abandon our sons in the hands of the enemy. This is a final window of opportunity for us. We must not miss it,” she pleaded.
In his first comments to the media since his brother was killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Ofek Shaul asserted that “the government must stand its ground. The Cabinet members must demand that my brother, Oron, and Hadar and Avera Mengistu and Hisham (al-Sayed) will be part of the agreement.”
“It cannot be that an agreement is reached with Hamas on some topics, while on the other hand they can’t reach an agreement or put pressure in order to return the MIAs and POWs. Perhaps they simply don’t put enough effort into it,” Ofek added.
Dr. Simacha Goldin, the mother of fallen IDF soldier Hadar who was also killed and captured during Operation Protective Edge, accused Netanyahu of speaking “hollow words behind which there is nothing” when saying the State of Israel is doing all in its power to return his son’s body for burial.
“Now there are new expressions—’a broad framework,’ ‘a broad agreement’—it’s all media spins. The truth is, there is no German mediator, there is no Qatari channel, there is no Egyptian intelligence man working on returning the soldiers and civilians. They don’t exist because the prime minister of Israel has become a senior partner in this ‘buy off agreement,’” he charged.
Dr. Goldin went on to clarify that “We are not against negotiations on prisoner exchange deals, but there is no negotiation, there was no negotiation, and there won’t be any. How do I know this? Because on Thursday I spoke to the coordinator (for POWs and MIAs) Yaron Blum, and he himself doesn’t know anything about negotiations to return my son, Zehava’s son, and others.”
“The agreement with Hamas has begun,” he said. “The Israeli public must understand that the prime minister has no commitment to the values of the IDF or the alliance between the government and the soldiers’ families. There is only the spin.”
Goldin said he too lost his trust in Netanyahu “when he signed an agreement with (Turkish President) Erdogan, which humiliated the naval commandos” who stormed the Mavi Marmara boat while it was trying to breach the Gaza blockade in 2010, killing 10 Turkish activists on board who assaulted them.
Netanyahu, Goldin said, “decided at the last moment to remove the precondition from the agreement about returning the soldiers, despite making a commitment to include it.” Since Turkish had influence with Hamas, the families believed at the time that the reconciliation agreement with Ankara should be tied to the return of their sons.
Hadar’s mother Leah Goldin urged the prime minister, “Learn from (US President) Trump. Before the talks, before the agreements, he forced the North Korean leader to return the American MIAs and POWs home.”
“There’s no agreement without a return. There’s no reconstruction (of Gaza) without Oron, Hadar, Hisham and Avera’s return first,” she stressed. “Agreements signed on ice, in the heat of the Middle East, we’ve seen in the Turkish accord two years ago and in Cairo four years ago. We won’t have this betrayal of the values of Israeli society.”
Leah Goldin also asserted that “this agreement is being cooked up and engineered by Netanyahu personally, and the soldiers and civilians are not part of it.”
By Inbar Tvizer, Moran Azulay, Ynet News