Hamas has released photos purportedly showing the rifle of IDF Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was killed in the Gaza Strip nine years ago today, i24NEWS reported on Tuesday.
The bodies of Goldin and IDF Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul have been held as bargaining chips by the Palestinian terror group since they fell in battle during the 2014 Gaza war. Hamas is also holding captive Israelis Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who crossed into Gaza on their own accord in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Mengistu and al-Sayed both suffer from mental illness.
Goldin was killed in a gun battle near Rafah on Aug. 1, 2014, toward the end of the IDF’s “Operation Protective Edge.” The Kfar Saba native was 23 at the time of his death.
Hamas previously displayed what it claimed was Goldin’s rifle during a rally in December in Gaza to mark the 35th anniversary of the terrorist group’s founding.
The rifle was displayed by a masked Hamas terrorist from the group’s “Shadow Unit,” which guards hostages and bodies of Israelis killed in action.
Officials in Jerusalem said at the time that the presentation of Goldin’s weapon constituted psychological warfare designed to pressure Israel’s incoming government.
Prisoner exchange talks with the terror group have hit a roadblock as Israel refuses to abide by Hamas’s demand to release dozens of Palestinian terrorists with blood on their hands.
The families of Goldin and Shaul have led a campaign to bring their sons’ bodies home.
Goldin’s mother, Leah, accompanied President Isaac Herzog during his recent visit to Washington and received a standing ovation during Herzog’s address to a joint session of Congress on July 19.
“I asked Hadar Goldin’s mother, Leah, to be here with us today. We pray for her son’s return, as well as the three other Israelis,” Herzog said as Goldin stood and American lawmakers applauded.
Last year, Leah Goldin and other relatives of the Israeli captives met with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
The Goldin family last August initiated a march to the Gaza border, calling on Jerusalem to secure the release of their sons’ bodies, along with Mengistu and al-Sayed.