Israel has prevented Palestinians from searching for fighters who are still missing in a tunnel that was bombed on Monday by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip’s southern area of Khan Yunis.
Israel’s Channel 12 quoted the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Palestinian Territories (COGAT), Major General Yoav Mordechai, as saying: “We will not allow Palestinians to search for the missing persons in the cross-border tunnel Israel destroyed this week unless progress is made on returning the missing and slain Israelis.”
He claimed that Hamas has been withholding the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed in the last Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014.
On Monday, seven Palestinians were reported dead following the Israeli attack; however the number rose to 12 today.
In response, the Adalah Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Gaza-based Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights have filed a petition to Israel’s Supreme Court demanding the Israeli military allow rescue teams to recover the missing individuals.
They accused Mordechai and the Israeli military’s southern command chief, Eyal Zamir, of “using the trapped Palestinians as bargaining chips”.