Hamas claimed that an IDF airstrike hit a Gaza building where the body of an Israeli soldier was being held.
By Pesach Benson, United with Israel
Hamas claimed on Sunday that an IDF airstrike in May hit a Gaza building where the body of an Israeli soldier was being held by the terror group.
While fighting in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge, IDF Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul were both killed and their bodies seized by Hamas in separate incidents on August 1, 2014.
Because the army was able to confirm the deaths of Goldin and Shaul, they are not considered “Missing in Action,” but rather fallen soldiers whose place of death is unknown.
The Hamas statement was issued on Sunday, one day before the anniversary of the deaths of the soldiers. It claimed that the airstrike hit a building where the body of one of the soldiers is kept, killing a man guarding the body and injuring another three.
Hamas didn’t disclose which soldier’s body was in the building, the name of the guards, or offer any further evidence.
‘One Big Lie’
Israeli officials and analysts dismissed the Hamas claim as a deception to pressure Israel into a prisoner swap, and also as a psychological warfare ploy.
One anonymous Israeli official quoted by the Times of Israel called the Hamas statement “one big lie.”
The official explained, “Hamas is under great pressure so it’s looking to raise the issue. Israel will continue with its many and myriad efforts to release the captives and the missing, and it will not stop.”
Joe Truzman, a research analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy and expert on Gaza terror groups went even further.
“The latest round of videos and statements published by Hamas signals the group understands that time is not on its side,” Truzman wrote in the Long War Journal.
“Approximately eight years have gone by without reaching an agreement with Israel on a prisoner exchange. This is likely one of the major factors in the latest push by Hamas. Though, it’s unlikely the Israeli government will be compelled by Hamas’ latest overtures and propaganda.”
Hamas also holds captive two Israeli civilians, Avraham Mengistu, of Ashkelon, and Hisham al-Sayed, a Bedouin from the Negev town of al-Hura. Both suffer from mental health problems and both wandered across the Gaza border in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
In July, Hamas released a video of a bedridden al-Sayed wearing an oxygen mask and connected to an intravenous drip and said the 34-year-old’s health was deteriorating.
“Israel has learned from the mistakes it made in the 2011 prisoner exchange with Hamas, particularly with the release of current Hamas chief in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar,” Truzman added. Sinwar, the head of Hamas in Gaza, was one of 1,027 Palestinians freed in the controversial Gilad Shalit prisoner swap.
“Until Israel is satisfied with who they release, and the number of Palestinians prisoners exchanged for the Israeli captives, it’s unlikely Hamas propaganda videos or statements will move the government to accept a deal until it feels it won’t repeat the errors of past prisoner exchanges,” Truzman wrote.
Other Hebrew media reports suggested that the timing of the Hamas announcement had more to do with countering an IDF video showing footage of terror infrastructure embedded in immediate proximity to homes, schools, health clinics and mosques.
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