Radio host compares IDF soldiers to terrorists, sparks furor

The families of two Israeli soldiers whose remains are being held by Hamas demanded the suspension of a radio host Sunday after he compared their efforts to retrieve their sons’ remains to attempts by terrorists’ families to pressure Israel into returning the terrorists’ bodies.

Veteran Army Radio host Razi Barkai sparked controversy Sunday morning when, during an interview with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, he compared the families of Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul to Palestinian terrorists’ families.

Goldin and Shaul were killed in two separate incidents during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip, and their bodies were seized by Hamas.

During the interview, Barkai brought up the controversial meeting held last week between three Arab MKs and the families of 11 terrorists killed during recent months, which reportedly focused on the families’ demands that Israel return the terrorists’ bodies.

“Can you imagine a similar situation where Israeli families, and we know of such cases from [Operation] Protective Edge, just wait and wait for the remains of their loved ones to be released?” Barkai asked, to which Erdan, audibly taken aback, replied, “That’s the comparison you’re going for?”

Following the show, the Goldin and Shaul families sent a letter to Army Radio Commander Yaron Dekel and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and demanded Barkai’s suspension.

“We were horrified by this comparison,” the letter said. “This is an unprecedented and outrageous affront to us and to all bereaved families.”

Army Radio said in a statement, “There was no comparison between IDF soldiers and terrorists. We apologize if Barkai’s question was misunderstood.”

Meanwhile, Goldin’s parents met on Friday with U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet as part of their efforts to secure the return of their son’s remains.

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon, who facilitated the meeting, said, “Hadar Goldin was killed during a cease-fire mediated by the international community. The U.N. must accept responsibility and act against Hamas to return the remains of Hadar and Oron to Israel as soon as possible.”