Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Monday to bring back Israelis being held by Hamas -- and indicated that he may use the bodies of Palestinians killed in a tunnel explosion last week as a bargaining chip..
Netanyahu made the remarks as he spoke of his government's operational goals.
"Protect the country, with a simple rule: Whoever tries to attack us, we attack them," he said Monday. "The second rule is: There are no free gifts. We will bring our boys back home, and there are no free gifts."
Netanyahu clarified that "free gifts" meant the Israel would not return the bodies of five dead Palestinian militants before Israel is returned citizens being held by Hamas -- Avraham Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed and Juma Abu Anima, and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin.
Hamas forces said they would not negotiate for the bodies, saying Israel "will not be able to bargain over our fighters."
"Our battle is open-ended and shall not end," Ahmad al-Mudalal, a senior Hamas member, said. "The freedom tunnel is not the only tunnel owned by the Islamic Jihad. It has many tunnels and many options."
Last week, Adalah, a legal center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, filed and later withdrew a petition along with the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights to order the Israeli military to allow Palestinian search and rescue operations into the "buffer zone" along the border to locate and rescue people trapped in the tunnel.
"The holdings of bodies contradicts the principles of international humanitarian law. Bodies of individual who are killed during situations of conflict must be returned to their families for burial with dignity," Adalah said in a statementt.
However, the Justice Ministry said Friday it wasn't the "duty of the government to allow the terrorist organizations operating in Gaza to collect the bodies of its terrorists."