The family of an IDF soldier whose body had been held by Hamas in Gaza for two years has called on the Israeli government to end the cushy conditions enjoyed by convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons, as part of efforts to pressure the Islamist terror group to release their son's body and other captive Israelis.
Zahava and Herzl Shaul, parents of Oron Shaul who was killed in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, have turned to Israel Prison Service Director-General Ofra Klinger directly, as well as Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan – the latter of whom is responsible for Israel's domestic security services.
"We are turning to you after we were amazed to find out over the past few days of the decision to approve the provision of a variety of benefits to 3,500 prisoners from the Hamas organization imprisoned in Israeli prisons, including an increase to the canteen budget of 200 shekels, opening sports channels to watch broadcasts from the Euro 2016 (soccer) tournament, and the addition of soft-boiled eggs at meals," the Shauls wrote in their letter.
"We hope you will work to cancel your decision to grant these benefits immediately, and to prevent Hamas prisoners from watching the Euro semi-finals," the letter continued.
The parents expressed their outrage over the decision to grant more benefits to Hamas prisoners, while the terror group refuses to even respond to calls to release their son's body, along with that of IDF Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, without extracting unrealistically high concessions from the Israeli government.
"Hamas has so far avoided any humanitarian action required by international law regarding the provision of information about the prisoners," the Shauls added.
The two soldiers' bodies are being held by Hamas, along with Avera Mengistu – an Israeli civilian who suffers from mental health problems, who was captured by the Islamist group after he wandered across the border into Gaza, apparently during a psychological episode. Hamas says it is holding another Israeli citizen – a Bedouin man from southern Israel – but it is unclear whether he is being held against his will or moved to Gaza willingly.
The Shaul, Goldin and Mengistu families, along with their supporters, have been manning a protest tent outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, after Israel signed a reconciliation deal with Turkey's pro-Hamas government without demanding their sons' release first.
The families and other protesters recently managed to temporarily block aid trucks carrying Turkish aid from entering Gaza during a protest over the deal.