Israel to seek return of bodies from Gaza in Turkey deal

(JTA) – As part of a coalescing Israeli-Turkish reconciliation deal, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is seeking the return of Israeli bodies held by Hamas, the terrorist group that governs Gaza.

Turkey is demanding that Israel ease its blockade of Gaza before Turkish-Israeli relations are normalized. In exchange, according to Haaretz, Ya’alon wants Turkey to obtain Hamas’ agreement to return the bodies to Israel. The bodies, of Israel Defense Forces soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, were captured during the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. Goldin’s family is conducting a campaign for his body’s return.

Ya’alon, according to Haaretz, is skeptical of reaching reconciliation and has added a number of conditions to the negotiations. Speaking in Greece last month, he accused Turkey of financing the ISIS terror group and said Turkey “enables jihadists to move backwards and forwards between Europe and Syria and Iraq and to be part of the ISIS terror infrastructure in Europe.

Turkish and Israeli negotiating teams met Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland. The countries are aiming to restore ties, which broke down in 2010 after Israeli soldiers killed nine Turkish citizens on the Mavi Marmara, a boat attempting to break Israel’s Gaza blockade.

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