Israel believes that its missing soldiers are still alive in the Gaza Strip, Palestinians who have been subjected to investigations by the Israeli security forces said.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency, witnesses said that Israeli authorities conducted intensive investigations with “patients” and their companions at the Erez crossing in order to obtain information about the fate of the two soldiers who went missing during the recent war on the Gaza Strip.
According to the witnesses, who refused to be identified fearing being arrested by the Israeli army, Israel’s focus during its investigation is to find out where Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin and soldier Shaul Aaron are being detained.
They emphasised that the line of questioning clearly indicated that Israel believes both men are alive.
On July 20, Al-Qassam Brigades announced that it had captured Aaron during the Israeli ground invasion in to the Strip.
Two days later, the Israeli army admitted Aaron was missing, but said he was likely to have been killed in battle with Hamas fighters.
Israel also accused Hamas of capturing Goldin’s body, saying he was killed in an armed clash east of Rafah on August 1. The movement has neither confirmed or denied these reports.
One patient said he was surprised at his detention at Erez crossing for more than half an hour during which he was questioned by the Israeli army on Goldin’s fate and whereabouts of the soldier.
“The Israeli army is trying to get information about the missing soldiers from patients and their companions,” he said.
Due to the repeated closure of the Rafah crossing with Egypt, many residents of the Gaza Strip have been forced to seek treatment in Israeli hospitals or hospitals in the West Bank and Jerusalem after receiving the necessary travel documents from the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Another patient said that Israeli interrogators are making intensive efforts to obtain any information relating to the location of its soldiers.
He said officers asked him about Aaron’s whereabouts and what conversations are being exchanged by Palestinians in Gaza regarding this issue.
He added: “the investigator asked me about what I hear about the soldiers, whether they are alive or dead, and where they are being held.”
The Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights said in a statement issued several months ago that the Israeli authorities continue to “blackmail patients and detain them” and conduct security interviews on the grounds of obtaining security information and force some of them to work as informants.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has previously said that “Israel is committed to returning the bodies of its kidnapped soldiers from the Gaza Strip… for burial on its soil.”