Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Will Israel now finally stand steadfast for its fallen soldiers?
During the 50-day 2014 Israel-Hamas war, IDF soldiers Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt Oron Shaul disappeared while serving in combat. Although both soldiers' bodies were never retrieved, the IDF has concluded that both were indeed killed in action (here).
The problem is, Israel still doesn't have possession of their bodies. Their families have never had the opportunity to give these men a proper burial.
Hamas is mute. Contrary to International law (here), Hamas hasn't returned the bodies to Israel, despite multiple requests to do so. Hamas has refused to share anything about these soldiers (here).
To the IDF, bringing home all of its war dead is important.To Israeli citizens, it is most important. In fact, it's so important that, last year, twenty IDF soldiers who had fought in that 2014 war traveled to the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem. They carried 400 medals previously awarded to 400 IDF soldiers who had participated in the 2014 war.
These twenty soldiers carried these medals to bring a message to Israel's Prime Minister. Their message was simple: Israel's failure to return the bodies of these slain soldiers rendered these medals "worthless" (here).
It is perhaps true that the IDF's most emotionally significant value is that no war is over until the last soldier has been returned to his family (ibid). In this, Israel is not alone. Other countries share this value.
Such a value is considered a "customary" international humanitarian rule: the remains of soldiers killed in combat must be returned to their families, upon request. This concept is based upon the 1949 Geneva Convention. It's been restated numerous times in subsequent International Agreements (here) . It's enshrined in International humanitarian law as ICRC Rule 114 (here).
Civilized nations adhere to this law. Uncivilized entities don't.
It's been almost five years now since those soldiers were killed fighting Hamas. Hamas will not return their remains.
Hamas doesn't care if it violates International humanitarian law. It says nothing about these two men--the better to torment their families (here).
According to some, Israel has had several opportunities to pressure or even threaten Hamas to return these fallen soldiers. Each time, Israel has either failed to do so, or has failed to do so for reasons not acceptable to the soldiers' families (here).
Now, at last, a news report emerges that Israel may well be ready to stand up for its fallen soldiers. Specifically, a report has surfaced that Israel will not allow Hamas to receive a scheduled payment from Qatar (reported to be $15 million USD) unless Hamas, among other things, first returns the bodies of Lt Goldin and Sgt Shaul ("Israel has set two conditions for transfer of Qatari money to Hamas", arutzshevanewsbrief, June 11, 2019 @1531 hours).
Hamas has condemned these conditions. Hamas calls these conditions, "impossible" (ibid). Really?
Hamas is so offended by these conditions it threatens Israel to escalate its weekly Gaza border riots if the conditions are not dropped. They demand that the Qatari money be transferred with no conditions whatsoever.
Will this new attempt to bring back these men work? It might. Hamas desperately wants that Qatari money.
Will this effort succeed?
Israel certainly has sent a compelling message. Essentially, Israel is telling Hamas, you want that $15 million? Give us the bodies of Goldin and Shaul first.
This message is simple. It's very clear. It's about time Israel did this.
We'll see if this report is true; and if it is true, we'll certainly find out if Israel will stick to its word, and stand steadfast for its fallen.