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Why Hamas refused to return IDF remains

Hamas' release of two Israeli civilians and the remains of two soldiers was never on the table as a condition of the Israeli-Turkish reconciliation agreement.
Hamas leader Yehia Sinwar attends a rally in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip January 7, 2016. The rally, organized by Hamas movement, was held to honor the families of dead Hamas militants, who Hamas's armed wing said participated in imprisoning Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, organizers said. Shalt was abducted by militants in a cross-border raid in 2006, and was released in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem  - RTX21FPI

The reconciliation agreement signed June 27 between Israel and Turkey did not bring about the return of the bodies of two Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, killed in 2014, or the release of two Israeli civilians held by Hamas, Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed. The agreement did not contribute even one additional piece of information beyond what was already known to Israel’s defense establishment about the condition of Mengistu and Sayed, who separately crossed the border into Gaza after Operation Protective Edge in 2014 and have since been held by the organization’s military wing as bargaining chips, admittedly weak ones, although Hamas views them as a tool of significant pressure on Israel.

The Goldin and Shaul families say that they were promised over the course of the long negotiations that Israel would condition its signing of the reconciliation agreement on the release of the soldiers’ bodies. These promises were made to the families even though the members of the Security Cabinet who supported the reconciliation agreement, as well as those who opposed it — Ministers Avigdor Liberman, Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked — knew that the chances were virtually nil of linking the release of the soldiers' remains and the civilians to the agreement with Turkey.

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