Shas Chair: Talk Straight to Hamas

Yuval Azoulay; Shahar Ilan

Shas Chair: Talk Straight to Hamas



Shas Chairman and Industry Minister Eli Yishai urged the government yesterday to consider direct negotiations with Hamas over Gilad Shalit, since indirect talks via Egypt have done nothing to bring the kidnapped soldier home.

Israel has negotiated directly with enemies in the past to get its captives back, he noted.

The Meretz faction also urged the government to resume negotiations on a prisoner exchange. MK Ran Cohen (Meretz) said that Shalit must be brought home, “even at the price of releasing thousands of Palestinian prisoners.”

But Absorption Minister Ze’ev Boim (Kadima) countered that “decisions must be made on the basis of past experience, in a considered manner, and not on the basis of emotional blackmail.”

The National Union faction also opposed giving in to Hamas’ demands, with MK Yitzhak Levy arguing that instead, humanitarian aid to Hamas-run Gaza should be conditioned on Shalit’s release.

Almagor, an association of terror victims, similarly urged the government to stand firm, warning: “If we give in to this despicable blackmail, the danger is that we will enter an endless cycle of new kidnappings and terror attacks.”

Physicians for Human Rights demanded that Hamas give Shalit proper medical treatment. In the tape released yesterday, Shalit said that his health has deteriorated and he needs hospitalization.

Shalit’s Father Expresses Hope Hamas Is Willing to Negotiate

Avi Issacharoff; agencies; Jonathan Lis

Shalit’s Father Expresses Hope Hamas Is Willing to Negotiate

Hamas releases audio recording of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who says “health deteriorating.”



Hours after Hamas released an audio message purportedly from Gilad Shalit, the father of the Israel Defense Forces soldier issued a response on the first concrete sign of life of his son since his abduction a year ago.

Addressing the press from his home in Mitzpeh Hila, Noam Shalit said the tape appears to be authentic, although the content was “obviously dictated by his captors.”

“We hope this is a sign that Hamas is genuinely interested in making progress on a deal, and not just a spin … to divert attention back to Gaza,” added Shalit.

Shalit said that, if Hamas is genuinely interested in talks, he expects Israel to take the necessary steps to make a deal. “It has been a year,” he said. “I think that is enough.”

In a recording posted on a Hamas Web site, the voice identified as Shalit said he was disappointed over the Israeli government’s lack of interest in his fate.

Shalit added that his health was deteriorating, and that he would need to be hospitalized for a long period of time.

“I am Gilad, son of Noam Shalit, prisoner of the Izz el-Din al-Qassam Kataib [Brigades],” the message began, using the Arabic word for brigades – strengthening suspicions he was reading a dictated statement.

“Mom and Dad, brother and sister, my friends in the IDF – I send my love and miss you all dearly. It has been a year since I was captured, and my health is deteriorating. I am in need of prolonged hospitalization.

“I am sorry for the Israeli government’s and IDF’s lack of interest in me and their rejection of the demands of Izz el-Din al-Qassam [the Hamas armed wing]. It is clear that they must accept their demands if they want me to be released from prison, especially since I was part of a military operation under military instruction and not a drug dealer.

“And just as I have a mother and father, the thousands of Palestinian prisoners also have mothers and fathers – and their children must be returned to them. I have great confidence in my government that they will focus more on my issue and accept the demands of my captors.”

Militants: ‘He Is in Good Health’

The release of the tape on Israel’s Channel 2 television followed an announcement by a Popular Resistance Committees’ spokesman that there would be a “positive surprise” regarding Shalit on Monday, exactly a year after his abduction.

The Popular Resistance Committees is one of three Hamas-linked groups that captured Shalit.

“Shalit is alive and in very good shape,” Abu Mujahid said, “His health is good and he’s stable. We are treating him according to our religion’s instructions on how to deal with war prisoners.” Abu Mujahid also said that Shalit does not need anything and was receiving good treatment.

Shalit, 20, was kidnapped by Palestinian gunmen in a cross-border raid into Israel from the Gaza Strip on June 25, 2006. Prior to Monday, he had not been seen or heard from since he was captured.

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem declared on Monday, the one-year anniversary of the abduction of Shalit, that holding him hostage was a war crime and that he must be immediately released.

The organization, which mainly works to protect the human rights of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, emphasized in a press release that those involved in the kidnapping bear individual criminal liability for the war crime.

B’Tselem said: “The circumstances of his capture and the behavior of his captors clearly indicate that he is a hostage.”

International humanitarian law absolutely prohibits “the taking and holding of a person by force in order to compel the enemy to meet certain demands, while threatening to harm or kill that person if the demands are not met,” the organization stated.

B’Tselem said that the Hamas leadership has to work for Shalit’s immediate release, and without conditions. Hamas currently controls the entire security apparatus in the Gaza Strip after ousting Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah over a week ago.

Until the soldier’s release, B’Tselem said, his captors have to treat him humanely and grant Red Cross representatives access to him. The organization noted that the prevention of Red Cross’ visits is a “flagrant violation of international law.”

At a ceremony near the Knesset to mark Shalit’s abduction Sunday, his father Noam called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to secure his son’s release or step down.

Meanwhile, two other human rights groups criticized Shalit’s abductors.

Doctors for Human Rights called on Hamas to immediately provide Shalit with proper medical treatment.

“Denying him treatment is a serious breach of the Geneva Convention and of medical and human rights ethics. One cannot deny medical treatment from those in need because of negotiations and secrecy,” it said.

Almagor Terror Victims Association said the recording’s release was a “cynical attempt” to exploit the media and influence public opinion and the government to free terrorists.

“Releasing the recording, its timing and content, show terror organizations have thoroughly learnt the weak spots of Israeli society, which runs the risk of a downwards slope of terror attacks and kidnappings if it accepts the despicable blackmail,” it said.

Report: Gilad Shalit Held in Booby-trapped Gaza Building

Channel 2 television reported Sunday that Gilad Shalit was being held in the southern Gaza Strip in an underground room inside a booby-trapped building.

The reports said Shalit was being held near Shaboura refugee camp, close to the town of Rafah in the southern part of the coastal territory.

The report said the information had come from Hamas sources.

Israeli officials declined to comment and a militant source representing one of the three groups holding Shalit said the report was “speculation and imagination.”

The television report said Shalit was being cared for by two captors with whom he had formed a “cordial” relationship and he was being treated fairly.

Shalit’s living quarters were described as a two-room underground store with enough supplies to last two weeks, accessible down a ladder through a 15-meter deep shaft which the report said was lined with explosives.

It added that the captors receive supplies and newspaper cuttings every two weeks and that they had been ordered to take good care of their prisoner.

Last year, Shalit’s captors refused to accept a pair of eye glasses sent by his parents because they feared they were embedded with miniature electronic devices.

Almagor: Meltzer Pick Shows Supreme Court Political

Almagor: Meltzer Pick Shows Supreme Court Political

Israel National News


Almagor, the terror victims’ organization, said Sunday the appointment of Attorney Chanan Meltzer to the High Court of Justice “set a new record in the politicization of the Supreme Court.”

“Meltzer and Attorney [Yoram] Danziger who is waiting in line to be nominated, and who poured fire and brimstone on the Disengagement opponents, mark the end of the era in which there was at least an attempt to maintain an outward semblance of the Supreme Court as an impartial body,” the organization said in a statement.

Almagor Wants Names of Arabs Transferred From Gaza

Almagor Wants Names of Arabs Transferred From Gaza

Israel National News


“Almagor,” an organization representing victims of terrorism, has written a letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak demanding that he release the names of Arabs transferred from Gaza earlier in the week. Group members explained that they had received information according to which some of the Arabs were terrorists who attacked Jewish towns in the past.

In their letter to Barak, group members said that Israel had given in to pressure to help Fatah. However, they said, “these members of Fatah … many of them took part in acts of terrorism against Israel and her citizens.” The group argued that 30 of the 60 Arabs taken by Israel to Egypt on Thursday were involved in terrorist activities in Gaza.

Terror Victims: Don’t Release Prisoners

Roee Nahmias

Terror Victims: Don’t Release Prisoners

Terror victims association Almagor: ‘What will families of soldiers who fell in battles against terrorism say when the terrorists are about to released? What did their sons die for?’



Almagor, the terror victims association said it is opposed to any prisoners being released as part of a deal to bring home kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

“We don’t want to see terrorists coming out to freedom while those they murdered are buried under the ground,” Meir Eindor, director-general of Almagor said.

The organization has announced the start of a public campaign that will oppose any prisoner releases for Shalit, the solution hoped for by Shalit’s family.

Shalit’s father, Noam, called on the government to hold negotiations with the kidnappers, even if the price for returning him home is the release of prisoners.

Almagor is concerned that due to Shalit’s comments, a public campaign will begin to free Palestinian prisoners, and they have begun to organize an opposing front.

Eindor told Ynet: “I was injured during a pursuit of four terrorists, and I knew I could have been killed. Why did the State send me for the pursuit mission after four terrorists when their comrades are about to be released? What will the families of soldiers who fell in battles when those captured in those same battles are about to be released? For what did their sons fall?”

Addressing Shalit’s comments, Eindor said: “The release of prisoners as a gesture was on the agenda before, so there is no reason it won’t be on the agenda afterwards, in an attempt to release a fighter sent by the State to the front.”

Speaking with journalists, Shalit was asked whether Israel should talk with Hamas about a prisoner release for returning Gilad.

‘Everything Has a Price’

“Everything has a price,” he said. “I don’t’ suppose that there will be some kind of maneuver for the release of Gilad without a price. That’s the way it is in the Middle East. The question is, why are they still waiting. I want to believe that negotiations are being held in this spirit, on a secret channel, which we are not being briefed about.”

Shalit added: “For the families affected by terrorism, part of the recovery is to see the presence of justice on their attacker. At Almagor there are bereaved families of families killed while pursuing terrorists, and they are asking – if the State endangered our sons for one terrorist, how will you have the courage to again endanger other soldiers to catch a terror cello?”

Eindor said that Almagor is planning on launching a public campaign where the organization will recommend “the death sentence for terrorists in our hands, so that if one hair is harmed from the head the hostage – the State will carry out the punishment. They must know that prison is the minimal sentence.”

No Food Shortage Foreseen in Gaza

Yuval Azoulay; Yuval Yoaz

No Food Shortage Foreseen in Gaza



A humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip is not likely, following the closing of the crossings into Israel, IDF sources said yesterday, as the Karni crossing had operated continuously since September until last week, and large quantities of essential food supplies had crossed into the Gaza Strip.

Military sources did warn, however, that following the closing of the crossings, local traders may create an artificial crisis by reporting shortages, in order to sell their stocks at a later stage when its value will increase.

Yesterday, 11 crates of medicines, anesthetics, disinfectants and bandaging materials were delivered to the Red Cross in the Gaza Strip. The transfer of the medical equipment was carried out through the Erez crossing. No vehicles crossed the crossing, and the transfer was done by hand.

The Red Cross is expected to bring in a truckload of medical supplies in the coming days, which will be delivered to the hospitals in Gaza.

Some fuel supplies were also delivered yesterday, including approximately 550,000 liters of diesel, 200,000 liters of gasoline and 200 tons of butane gas.

Colonel Nir Peres, in charge of the liaison operations at the Erez crossing, met yesterday with Red Cross representatives to discuss the immediate needs of the residents of the Gaza Strip.

“They said that there is no urgent need for equipment or food,” Col. Peres said. “Later in the week, depending on the needs, we will coordinate the crossing of trucks into the Strip at one of the crossing points.”

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann supports the crossing of Palestinian refugees from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank because of the threat posed by Hamas to their physical security.

In a statement issued yesterday, Friedmann said that “it is appropriate to allow the Gaza residents wishing to escape the threat posed by Hamas terrorism and occupation, to cross to the territory of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The state of Israel needs to ease their crossing, as long as these are not Hamas people, or who pose a threat to our security.”

However, Friedmann’s stance was countered by Almagor, an organization representing victims of terrorism in Israel, which issued a statement that “the prime minister and defense minister should not accept the proposal of the minister of justice. Friedmann forgets that we are not in Switzerland, which can allow itself such humanitarian gestures to terrorists.”

Almagor Demands Weapons-Gathering Operation

Almagor Demands Weapons-Gathering Operation

Israel National News


The Almagor organization for victims of terrorism has demanded that the government prepare for a massive weapons-gathering operation in Judea and Samaria. The IDF should be ready to collect all weapons from Arabs living in the area if Hamas begins to gain power, they said.

The group’s demand came in response to earlier announcements that large quantities of weapons given to Fatah by the United States, Israel, and Egypt had been confiscated by Hamas in Gaza. Almagor asked the government to establish a committee to investigate the transfer of weapons to Fatah. “We warned the government, also recently, in an expert opinion given to the Supreme Court, that these weapons would reach Hamas and be turned against Israelis,” the group said.

Terror Victims Group Wants Names of Arabs Exiting Gaza

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

Terror Victims Group Wants Names of Arabs Exiting Gaza

Sources in the organization say that among the fleeing Arabs are those responsible for attacks on Jewish families.

Israel National News


The Almagor Terror Victims Association has asked Defense Minister Ehud Barak for the names of the Palestinian Authority residents allowed to leave Gaza for Egypt or for Judea/Samaria. Sources in the organization say that among the fleeing Arabs are those responsible for attacks on Jewish families in what was the Gush Katif bloc of communities in Gaza.

Almagor has expressed its official opposition to allowing PA Arabs to leave Gaza for other destinations near Israeli population centers.

“We stand in amazement at the capitulation of the State of Israel before non-governmental pressures from organizations aiding the Palestinians, including from foreign states, to assist members of Fatah,” said the Almagor letter to Defense Minister Barak. “It seems as though it has been forgotten in the public debate that those Fatah members are the very same who sought our demise, and a large portion of them took part in terrorist activities against the State of Israel and its citizens.”

On Wednesday night, the IDF provided buses to transport dozens of PA Arabs from the Erez Crossing on the northern tip of Gaza to the Kerem Shalom Crossing on the southern tip of Gaza, and then across the Egyptian border. The buses, traveling on Israeli roads, were surrounded by heavy security to prevent the Fatah-affiliated Arabs from escaping while in pre-1967 Israel. The transfer was negotiated with the Egyptian regime.

According to the terror victims group, 30 out of the 60 PA Arabs who were transferred by Israel from Gaza to the Sinai peninsula were prohibited from entering Israel due to their involvement in terrorism.

Almagor demanded that Defense Minister Barak supply the organization with the names of the Fatah members Israel transported to Egypt, as well as the names of those currently slated to pass by way of Jordan to Judea and Samaria. Meir Indor, the chairman of Almagor, said that the list of names will assist his organization to “publicly and legally to oppose your actions.”

Noting the “unbelievable ease with which the Egypt-Israel border can be crossed,” the Almagor letter said, “In order to know the extent of the danger, and if there was an extreme level of unreasonableness in transferring [the Fatah terrorists] to northern Sinai – in light of the terrorist attack in Eilat in which three Israelis were killed several months ago – we request to know what steps were taken to prevent their infiltration to Israel.” Almagor is also seeking the identity of the decision-maker who authorized the transfer and what was the mechanism for deciding on the action.

According to the Almagor activists, they have a right to all the information requested under the spirit and provisions of the Freedom of Information Law, which encapsulates the right of the citizenry to information held by public authorities. In addition, Almagor referred to the Crime Victims Law, under which “we have a right to know where those who harmed us are located.” They likened the current wholesale transfer of terrorists out of Gaza to the release of criminals from prison.

‘Almagor': Peres Must Not Be Prez

‘Almagor': Peres Must Not Be Prez

Israel National News


Almagor, an Israeli organization for terror victims, has launched a campaign against the candidacy of Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres for the role of Israel’s president.

“If they created a committee of investigation about the Lebanon War, kal vachomer there should have been one for the Oslo Process and for its initiators, and they certainly should not be promoted,” said the organization’s spokesman.