HAMAS demands Israel negotiate, even if Shalit is dead

Posted: June 25, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Gilad Shalit, Hamas, IDF, Israel, Politics, Terrorism
Hamas says it cannot confirm if Gilad is dead or alive, demands Israel negotiate either way, fears final deal might be seen as a surrender; Shalit’s mother writes an open letter, asking Israelis to intervene, while public is overly optimistic

 

IDF Merkava tank at Karni crossing to Gaza, ready to engage capturers of Gilad Shalit (Photo: Michael J. Totten, michaeltotten.com) OSSAMA AL-MUZINI, HAMAS’ spokesman in Gaza, told Chinese agency Xinhua. Al-Muzini said as a result of Israel’ offensive on Gaza, HAMAS is in no possession of information indicating Shalit’s well-being, effectively suggesting Israel is negotiating with the wrong group. Yet, al-Muzini said Israeli government should talk to HAMAS and cave in to its demands, despite HAMAS’ inability to provide information:

…Israel has to go ahead with talks to exchange Shalit for a number of Arab prisoners "whether the soldier was dead or alive."

"The Zionist enemy has to pursue negotiations without any signal confirming or denying this argument," al-Muzini added.

Meanwhile, some sources in Gaza say HAMAS would be reluctant to compromise on Shalit, due to numerous promises it delivered to Gazan citizens, such as the return of 450 prisoners in Israeli jails and opening of Gaza crossings. While there is little pressure on HAMAS within Gaza, as it possesses most firearms in the Strip (and the most trained armed forces), a list inferior to the one already demanded by Haniyeh would be seen as weakness.

The Shalit family, despite all odds, do not give up on Gilad’s fate. Today, Gilad’s mother wrote an open letter to the Israelis, asking them to support her family in their struggle to release Gilad. She notes many people writing to them or talking on the streets are puzzled over their calm behavior (you will not see Aviva cry on TV), answering with: “We have not trained to become different than we are”. Aviva, however, has reservations about the attitude, openly questioning reasons for government’s inability to negotiate Gilad’s release:

Is this why the State is taking its time? Does the fact that we have shown faith in the State undermine Gilad? Is a State supposed to take quick decisions only because it is prompted to do so by a family’s fight for its son? Especially when this State is obligated to this son, who was sent on its behalf of perform a mission?

Their calm when facing the world outside, is probably a benefactor to Israelis’ overall optimism on the issue of Gilad Shalit. According to recent polls, staggering 51% of Israelis, believe Shalit will be released from HAMAS’ captivity within one year, with 69% openly willing to release Palestinian prisoners, including ones directly responsible for murder of dozens of Israelis, in order to secure Shalit’s release. It is quite probably, however, that at least some (if not most) of these people would return to terrorist activity, thus in fact expanding the threat to Israeli military personnel and civilians. Sadly, it seems IDF forces are unable to find Shalit and mount a military rescue operation. And this is perplexing to me.

 

MY NAME IS Jonathan. I was named so after late brother of current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His older brother was Yoni – Yonatan – Jonathan, a commander in Israel’s elite forces. On July 4, 1976, his unit – together with several others – stormed the Entebbe airport, in Uganda, thousands of miles away from homeland, attempting to release over a hundred Jews and French flight crew, who volunteered to stay with the hostages. Yoni Netanyahu led the assault, which resulted in all hostage-takers dead, and all but three hostages safe. Jonathan Netanyahu was the only IDF casualty during the raid.

I watch in utter disgust as Israeli government spends years in negotiations with terrorists. I believe my hero now turns over in his grave, his soul scolding at his younger brother, who sends envoys to talk with HAMAS.

 

For the grand finale, I also wanted to point out that Haaretz managed to slip criticism of being tough on terrorists its article on HAMAS’ fears, stating:

But these failures are almost negligible compared to then-prime minister Ehud Olmert’s attitude toward the negotiations, beginning with his claim that Israel would not negotiate with terrorists and that Israel would exert enough pressure to make Hamas "crawl on its knees" to release Shalit

While Olmert’s attitude towards the whole deal was clearly disgraceful, it is baffling to me that nowadays standing tough and not giving in to blackmail is considered a “failure”.

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