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Orna Shimoni Photo: Shalom Bar Tal
Orna Shimoni Photo: Shalom Bar Tal
 
 

Punish their prisoners

Orna Shimoni in favor of collective punishment as means for securing Shalit’s release

Orna Shimoni
Published: 03.24.10, 10:00 / Israel Opinion

At the beginning of the week, we prepared to block families visiting Hamas prisoners at Shata Prison, yet the closure imposed on the territories by the IDF prevented their arrival and our rally was called off. However, even before we managed to protest, some people were asking: “Why collective punishment?”; others charged that we “disrupt negotiations.”

 

Yet no negotiations are taking place at this time. What we have is silence, and the only thing moving forward is Gilad Shalit’s time in prison. Hamas’ response to the latest Israeli offer is negative, even if it was not provided officially. Hence, we must go back to protests.

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We must worsen the imprisonment conditions of prisoners and declare there will be no family visits. No newspapers, no money, no phones, no television, and no visits. Darkness. We must prevent the transfer of fuel, electricity, and food to Gaza through Israel. Yes, a collective punishment until the Israeli soldier is released. This will also serve as deterrence against more abductions.

 

It appears this is the only means left at our disposal – only collective punishment. We tried the path of war, where hundreds of people were killed, including children. Yet this had no effect on Hamas’ killers. They will continue to hide behind innocents and inside hospitals. We must not punish hospitals or children, but we need to punish the prisoners who murdered whole families without letting our humanitarian side defeat us, because these are the last measures we haven’t tried yet. They are also better than war, as they don’t kill.

 

Scare and deter 

At the same time, it’s clear that securing the abducted soldier’s release will eventually include the release of these murderers. The names are the same, and the dangers will not disappear even if they remain in prison. The murderers are everywhere, not necessarily in prison. An example of this is the murderer of staff sergeant Ihab Khatib, a “normative person” who was not in jail and was not released from it with “blood on his hands.” He demonstrates the existence of other murderers who are waiting to act and kill us, even though they were not prisoners in the past. However, Khatib’s killer must know which conditions await him at the Israeli prison.

 

Hence, detainment in Israel must aim to scare and deter; deterrence that is also premised on the IDF’s ability to abduct their leaders should they continue to encourage abduction and murder attempts.

 

Collective punishment is not something easy for me, especially when it entails starving the Gaza population. Yet when an Israel soldier remains in captivity for close to four years, without any Red Cross visits and of course without any family visits, such punishment becomes just and moral. We must try all these measures, until Gilad the soldier is back at his parents’ home, with us here in Israel.

 

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