Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon said Monday that security prisoners should not be released as part of prisoner exchange deals in which the demanded "price" is too high.
"When it comes to the question of a deal, I am one of those who call for the minimum, and in some cases we must even say we are ready to sacrifice in the face of what we are required to pay, because the payment price is much heavier than the price of losing the hostage," he said.
Speaking at a conference at the Tel-Hai Academic College on IDF leadership in the 21st century, Yaalon noted that "in some situations, the price to pay as part of the deal is much heavier than the price of losing the captive soldier."
Addressing the (kidnapped soldier) Gilad Shalit issue, the former IDF chief said that "naturally, if we have the operation ability to release (the captive), as we have tried to do many times in the past, sometimes successfully and sometimes unsuccessfully, we must do it. And I imagine that if we could, it would have been done a long time ago in regards to the current hostages."
Gilad Shalit's father told Ynet in response to Yaalon's comments that “no politician or public activist has the right to determine the fate of an IDF POW, except a commander during battle”.
“Yaalon was an army commander but today he is mainly a politician and a public activist. He and anyone else can determine a POW’s fate only if it concerns their own son,” Noam Shalit said.
Shlomo Goldwasser, father of kidnapped IDF soldier Ehud Goldwasser, also slammed Yaalon's statement, saying "such words can only be spoken by a man whose son is not held captive by the enemy. He would have spoken differently had the matter been a personal concern of his," Goldwasser said.
In 2003, while serving as IDF chief, Yaalon supported the deal with Hizbullah
in which the bodies of three Israeli soldiers - Staff Sgt. Benny Abraham, Staff Sgt. Adi Avitan and Staff Sgt. Omar Sawaid – were returned to Israel
along with Israeli businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum in exchange for the release of 400 Palestinian terrorists.
Meanwhile, the High Court reconvened Monday afternoon to deliberate on the appeal filed by Shalit's familiy against the ceasefire between Israel and the armed Palestinian organizations in Gaza.
As for the burgeoning prisoner exchange deal with Hizbullah, on Sunday it was revealed that the Shiite group returned to its initial demand that Israel release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the return of captive IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.