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Families of Israeli Soldiers Killed or Missing in Gaza Slam Expected Reconciliation Deal with Turkey

The parents of two Israeli soldiers who were killed in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, and whose remains are still being held by the Islamist Hamas movement, say the return of their sons’ bodies must be part of the reconciliation deal between Israel and Turkey that is expected to be announced today. Turkey has close ties with Hamas, and the parents say that Turkey could pressure Hamas to release the bodies. Hamas is also believed to be holding two other Israelis alive, an Ethiopian-Israeli who is believed to be mentally ill and crossed into Gaza last year, and a Bedouin. The fact that the prime minister signed this agreement proves that the government failed in its first test after Operation Protective Edge, and has awarded Hamas a prize for kidnapping Lieut. Hadar Goldin and First Sergeant Oron Shaul,” Goldin’s father said in a statement. Relations between Israel and Turkey soured in 2010, after Israeli naval commandos killed nine Turkish citizens on an aid flotilla that tried to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. President Obama directly intervened, urging Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to call Turkey’s President and apologize for Israel’s role in the flotilla incident. According to Israeli press reports, Turkey gave in on its demand to allow it to deliver aid to Gaza directly, and all aid will go through the Israeli port of Ashdod. Over the weekend, Turkey hosted senior Hamas official Khaled Mash’al in what seemed to be a sign that Turkey’s support for Hamas remains strong.