Hamas has told Israel there is a “real chance” to negotiate the return of MIAs and POWs but a window of opportunity will soon shut.
The statement came hours after a State ceremony in Jerusalem commemorating fallen Israeli troops fallen Operation Protective Edge in 2014 on Tuesday.
Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida claimed the terror group wanted to “resolve the issue” if Israeli leadership was serious.
He added that the Israeli government continues to lie about MIAs.
Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul died alongside four IDF soldiers and are believed to be held by the terror group.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared during the ceremony that Israel would bring back the bodies of the soldiers, and two citizens, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, held by Hamas.
“I cannot go into detail here about everything that we are doing but we are doing very much,” he asserted.
Netanyahu had a stark warning for Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip during his speech.
“We are working to achieve calm, but we are prepared to embark on a campaign, an extensive military operation to strike Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” he said.
“Those who are involved in these preparations, who are sitting here today, know very well that these are not mere words.”
Goldin and Shaul died in the Shuja’iyya neighbourhood of Gaza City when an armoured personnel carrier was hit by an anti-tank missile.
Hamas claimed it seized Oron and Hadar but did not state if the soldiers were alive or dead.
The IDF declared the two had died shortly after the incident.
Meantime, Israel has started demolishing over 72 apartments in 12 buildings near a military barrier on the outskirts of Jerusalem on Monday after a year-long legal battle.
Israel’s Supreme Court ruled the buildings violated a construction ban last month.
“The petitioners took the law into their own hands when they began and continued building structures without receiving a special permit from the military commander,” a three-judge panel explained.
A deadline for residents to remove affected buildings expired last Friday.
An IDF statement said enforcement would be take in “operational considerations” and “State policy.”
Israel says the buildings were built illegally by Palestinians too close to the West Bank separation barrier.
The landscape is complicated as part is outside municipal boundaries of East Jerusalem but on the Israeli side of the barrier.
Residents claim they cannot get permits to build homes legally.
Criticism came from The European Union who said in a statement the policy undermined viability of a two-state solution and a lasting peace.
By Howard Lawrence