The Israeli government's conduct in the Gilad Shalit affair reminds me of the error (to put it mildly) made during the first days of the Second Lebanon War. At the time, Jerusalem rejected out of hand a proposal to transfer our abducted soldiers to Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora.
At the time, Olmert said that Israel had no dispute with Siniora. "The abducted troops will likely be treated well by him. But we don't want Siniora to turn into a target while holding the soldiers." The message was that the abductees were not our top priority. Israel preferred Siniora's wellbeing over its own sons.
Now, we're repeating the same mistakes. Israel prefers to insult Egypt, while knowing full well that the Egyptians have no possibility or interest in advancing talks on Shalit's release. That is, Gilad is not our government's top priority. Gilad has become a pawn in the game involving Egypt and Hamas, whose ties are in deep crisis. Why doesn't Israel agree to the intervention of a different mediator? Even Hamas asked for it.
And perhaps Hamas itself faces pressure by relatives of prisoners held in Israel ahead of the Ramadan? Had our government been wise enough to exert pressure instead of being scared of itself or of hypocritical views expressed by various human rights groups (that will always criticize us regardless of anything,) perhaps it could have managed to facilitate an end to the Gilad Shalit affair.
We do we provide Hamas with fuel?
The time has come to say it loud and clear: Terror groups only understand a firm hand. We already saw that when we tightened the siege, they were the ones begging for a lull. This is the language they understand. Why aren't we closing the Gaza crossings? Why do we continue to provide Hamas with fuel, food, and medicine, which apparently don't reach the people, but rather, Hamas leaders who use these goods to advance their own aims?
So much has been said about releasing prisoners with "blood on their hands," but I doubt whether you heard the mothers whose children were killed by terrorists calling to release their children's murderers in exchange for Gilad. And did you hear the former captives who said that the only thing that kept them alive in captivity was the certain knowledge that the State would do everything to secure their release?
Who would want to serve in an army of a State that abandons its children? I have no doubt that the way we handled the issue of the abducted troops in recent years weakened our national resolve and desire to contribute. Should the Ron Arad case be repeated, we would need to be concerned about the State of Israel's fate.
And on a final note: Is there anyone out there who hasn't celebrated their son's birthday for a third year in a row because he is being held by our haters? Look deep into the eyes of the Shalit family and then say what you have to say.
Miki Goldwasser's son, Ehud, is a fallen IDF soldier returned to Israel in the recent swap with Hizbullah