Noam Shalit, father of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, has spoken to the press almost every day since his son’s capture by Hamas militants. Yet he has never questioned the government’s position that it will not negotiate with the kidnappers for fear of encouraging more such kidnappings. Shalit pere has basically been a good solider like his own son. Until today.
Ynetnews reports that Mr. Shalit has blasted the government for its refusal to negotiate a deal to save his son’s life:
“Everything has a price,” he responded. “I don’t believe there can be any process to gain Gilad’s release that won’t cost a price. That’s not how things work in the Middle East. The question is only – why are they still waiting? I want to believe that negotiations are being held, in some secret channel, that we just haven’t been told about.”
“The release of prisoners was on the agenda before the incident, as a goodwill gesture, so there is no reason to remove it from the agenda after it with the aim of releasing a soldier sent by the country to the frontlines,” Shalit said.
He added, “I’m ready to speak with the kidnappers if it were possible. I have nothing to offer or give them, but we could talk. In the end, we will have to speak with these organizations directly or indirectly.”
The concerned father called on Hamas to make a concrete offer to the Egyptian mediators, and not via their Internet sites or their associates. “It has to be a serious offer that Israel can agree to, not a humiliating offer,” Shalit said.
In response to a question from a Ynet reporter on the effect of the IDF operation in Gaza on Gilad’s situation, Shalit said he was not familiar with the intricate details of the operation, but as far as he knew, the operation intended to combat Qassam fire and not solve the kidnapping affair. “But every additional factor causes concern for further endangerment. Of course we are more and more concerned about Gilad’s fate,” he added.
So there you have it. The human being who has the most to lose and is suffering the most from the kidnapping (after his son and wife, of course) tells Israel to get up off their asses and do what needs to be done to free him. The outline of a deal has been on the table for days (written about at least twice here). The only thing holding Israel back seems to be its cloud cuckoo land stance that we won’t negotiate with terrorists; plus their wish to take care of unfinished business regarding suppressing Qassam rocket fire (which may be delaying a resolution). It is interesting to note Shalit’s implicit criticism of that aspect of the miltary plan as a distraction that might impair the chances of his son being released. He is of course right. The entire Gaza incursion is a laundry list of IDF strategic objectives all mixed together in a hash of an operation making it much more likely to drop in failure like a lead balloon.
My fond hope is that Shalit’s powerful statement will resonate in Israel and put added pressure on the decision-makers to do the right thing instead of dithering. For if, God forbid, anything bad happens to Gilad Shalit the Olmert government will have Hell to pay for ignoring the express wishes of the boy’s father to avoid a bloodbath by negotiating in good faith.