(July 4, 2018 / Israel Hayom) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, bereaved families and other dignitaries on Tuesday attended the state memorial service honoring soldiers who were killed in Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip in 2014.
“I feel a personal kinship with you,” the prime minister said at the ceremony, held on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. “Four years have passed since the difficult campaign in Israel’s south, and we have taken up arms to remove the threat of Hamas terror. This murderous organization controls the Gaza Strip, oppresses its people and directs its efforts toward Israel’s destruction.
“We continue to spare no effort to secure the return of our soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin. Not everything is known to the public, and that’s a good thing. Our commitment will remain steadfast until their return, and the same goes for our captive civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed,” said Netanyahu.
The prime minister also sent a clear message to Hamas, saying its leaders “would be wise to defuse tensions, not provoke escalation. If they chose escalation, they will find the price we exact from them to be unbearable.”
But fed up with the government’s promises, 15 bereaved families held a rally outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, in solidarity with the Goldin and Shaul families.
Col. (ret.) Varda Pomerantz, who lost her son Daniel in Operation Protective Edge, said “as far as we are concerned, ‘Operation Protective Edge’ will not be over until Oron and Hadar return home.”
Shaul’s mother, Zehava, said, “I haven’t had a moment’s peace for four years. I’m telling the prime minister—we can’t go on suffering. It’s time to take action. There have been too many missed opportunities. Now Hamas is in distress, and this may be our last chance.”
Dr. Leah Goldin noted that “solidarity among the bereaved families is not something that can be taken for granted. These are the fundamental values at the core of our existence. The prime minister has to ensure our boys are returned before he worries about Gaza’s rehabilitation. The fact that bereaved families have to rally outside the Prime Minister’s Office to state the obvious is very painful.”
Also on Tuesday, 22 fires were sparked in Gaza-vicinity communities by incendiary kites. Hundreds of firefighters and volunteers battled the flames for hours before getting them under control.
Several kites hit the residents’ homes but luckily caused only minor fires with no casualties.
Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh visited the area and said that the airborne incendiary devices were “outright terrorism. Luckily, there have been no casualties so far, but it’s clear that that could change at any moment.”