Terror Victims Group: Entire Shalit Family Held Hostage
Gilad Shalit’s father: Israel must do all it can to free my son. Almagor: Pressure on government is exactly what Hamas wants.
Israel National News
In response to remarks by Noam Shalit, whose son Gilad has been held captive in Gaza for over 14 months, the Almagor Terror Victims Association (TVA) says that Israel must not give in to his emotional appeals.
Shalit the father appeared on Sunday at a Herzliya conference—the 7th Annual International Conference, held by the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center’s Counter-Terrorism Policy Institute—and had strong criticism of the government for not having obtained the release of his son.
Shalit demands the implementation of the much-talked about, but still not finalized, prisoner exchange deal, involving the freeing of over 1,000 Palestinian Authority terrorists from Israeli jails. “In the case of Gilad,” he said, “if there is no military option, then Israel must act in every other possible way … Don’t tell me stories about the need to restore Israel’s deterrence on the back of one 19-year-old … Every family of combat soldiers must be worried about Israel’s inability to obtain his release. Israel must be firm, consistent, and creative in its efforts to free my son. If one channel doesn’t work, then another one must be tried.”
In response to Shalit, Almagor released a statement of opposition, explaining that though Hamas has apparently abducted Gilad’s entire family, the government must not allow itself to fall prey as well. TVA chairman Col. (ret.) Meir Indor, himself a victim of the war against terrorism, and Dr. Aryeh Bachrach, whose son was murdered by Palestinian terrorists, wrote as follows:
Dear participants in the international conference on counter-terrorism:
Following Noam Shalit’s remarks yesterday at the conference, in which he leveled criticism at the government … we asked those running the conference to allow us to appear before you and express our opinion on the subject … The conference management was unable to find a time slot for us at the last minute, but agreed to enable us to make our views known to you in writing.
With all the sympathy we feel for the Shalit family, this must be said: The media pressure being exerted in Israel on the government is completely in line with the deepest desires of Hamas … The terrorist organizations, by means of threats, have managed to “abduct” the family of the abducted soldier too. Noam Shalit [Gilad’s father] is currently a mental captive of Hamas. All that remains is for Hamas to similarly abduct the government, along with the entire nation. The day the government capitulates and agrees to a [prisoner exchange] deal with Hamas will be that day.
We must not allow Hamas to abduct the government of Israel, along with the rest of the country, in its efforts to free Hamas terrorists.
[The letter goes on to detail Almagor’s objections to the release of terrorists, citing a study showing that] at least 30 of the terrorist acts of the last few years have been carried out by terrorists who were released in previous exchange deals … The last terrorist acts have taken the lives of 179 citizens, and many more were injured and become disabled … 80% of security prisoners who were released return to terror activities. 14 suicide attacks have been carried out by terrorists released by Israel.
We therefore call upon the Israeli public not to blindly follow statements that make light of terrorists’ murder acts, and not to comfort ourselves with the hope that the next bombing will not hurt us or those dear to us. We, victims of terror, know from our own bitter experience that these are false dreams and we must not fool ourselves .We appeal to you in all earnestness to object with all your heart to these fatal death deals, despite and in the face of the great emotional difficulty to do so.
… [The families of some] Israeli POWs, after an aggressive media campaign on all channels and at all levels, received their sons back – and hundreds of people paid for it with their lives and health, when those terrorists planned the first intifada and formed the foundation of the terrorist organizations that have gained strength since the Oslo accords were signed.
… As soon as the exchange with [Hizbullah leader] Nasrallah was completed, he started talking about the next kidnapping. The writing was on the wall even before the exchange was carried out, but they told us, “Who can look the parents of kidnapped soldiers in the eyes?”
Now the time has come to ask ourselves: “And who will look in the eyes of the families of the next kidnapped soldiers? Who will look into the eyes of people walking in the streets, whose names we still do not know, but will be the next targets of kidnappings and terror attacks? Who will look into the eyes of murder victims when their loved ones’ murderers are released en masse, flashing the ‘v’ for victory, smiling and hugging their families, while their loved ones are six feet under”?
Another organization, the Victims of Arab Terror organization, similarly stated this week that by releasing prisoners as a “good will gesture,” this will certainly provide the Arabs with something to enjoy—”but it will imbue total bad will and bad feeling among others, such those who lost loved ones in terrorist attacks.”
… Once upon a time [the Almagor letter continues], things were different. Prof. Yuval Ne’eman said that when he was deputy chief of Israeli intelligence, with Israeli captives in enemy hands, he refused to meet with parents of the hostages in order to not be persuaded by emotions. It took time, but the hostages were eventually released, without bowing to pressure, and after Israel carried out kidnappings in response.
Now, at a time when parents are sending their children to fight—a fight they could possibly die in or be seriously wounded by terrorists—we would be insane to release even more terrorists. Who would dare send their children into battle after such a move, when hundreds of additional terrorists captured with great effort are released to save their terrorist organizations?”
It should be noted that Karnit Goldwasser, the wife of another abducted Israeli soldier, took a slightly more hawkish stance in her appearance at the Herzliya conference. The wife of Ehud Goldwasser—kidnapped by Hizbullah, together with Eldad Regev, at the beginning of last summer’s Second Lebanon War—said it is unacceptable that Hizbullah demands something in return for merely transmitting a sign of life from her husband and Regev. “I do not accept that there should be a price just to receive a sign of life,” she said.