PRC: We feel for Gilad Shalit's father
Israel to mark 500 days since IDF soldier's kidnapping on Wednesday, while talks for his release yet to yield results. Talking to Ynet, spokesman for Popular Resistance Committees says identifies with Shalit's family, but adds, 'As time goes by, price tag rises'
The Israelis can forget about their dreams to forcefully release kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, a spokesman for the Salah al-Din Brigades, the Popular Resistance Committees' Military wing, told Ynet on Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday, Israel will mark 500 days since Shalit's abduction. The PRC is one of the three Palestinian organizations holding Shalit captive in the Gaza Strip.
According to the spokesman, Abu Mujahed, no progress has been made in the talks for Shalit's release over the past six months. "It appears that the Israelis want us to kidnap more soldiers to get things moving," he warned.
Turning to Shalit's father, he said, "Noam Shalit, we feel for you, but we expect you to understand that just like you are suffering, we have 11,000 prisoners who each have a family which is suffering tremendously, like you. I am telling you, the people in Israel and the Israeli government, that as time goes by, the price tag for Gilad Shalit's release rises."
So is there any progress at the moment?
"The case is closed. There are no negotiations and there is no movement because of the Israelis' insistence. Before the deadlock six months ago, progress was made, real progress, but things got stuck against after the Israelis went back on their commitment to Egypt which could have led to the beginning of a solution.
"We are sticking to the same demands we raised on the first day: The release of 1,400 prisoners according to the criteria we mentioned, which includes the release of all female prisoners, all minors, all the sick prisoners, the elderly prisoners and the senior prisoners."
According to Abu Mujahed, the last proposal brought by the Egyptian mediator from the Israeli side, which could have led to progress, included the release of 1,000 prisoners.
"Despite the number, we began preparing the deal and handed a list of 330 names which should have been releases at the first stage to the Israeli side through the Egyptians. Four days later, however, the Egyptians informed us that Israel would only approve 30 out of the 330 names we demanded.
"At this point we halted the talks because we understood that the Israelis had no intention of holding serious negotiations, and we realized that they were only trying to stall."
Many believe that the kidnapping caused damage to the Palestinians.
"The Israeli crimes, the bombings, the assassinations, the demolition and the killings, existed before Shalit's kidnapping and continued after the kidnapping. Nothing has changed and Israel's actions have become worse.
"The Israelis need no excuse because they operate according to a clear work plan, which is aimed at destroying the Palestinian resistance and the Palestinian people."
Is there a way to reignite the negotiations?
"I believe that the Israelis are calm because they know Shalit is alive and in good condition, and they know that we are providing him with appropriate medical care as our Muslim religion requires us to treat prisoners.
"It appears that we will have to kidnap more soldiers. Because it is only one soldier, the Israeli government never really intended to find a solution, as opposed to us.
"I say to the Israelis, you are to blame in your indifference just like your government. Shalit, in the audiotape we aired, demanded that you pressure the government, but you didn’t take any steps."
Turning again to Noam Shalit, Abu Mujahed said, "Many times we made it clear to you through the media that your son is in good condition, but you must play a more active role in order to release him.
"We understand how you feel, but remember that while the entire world demands that we release your son, no one in the world cares about our prisoners. You are in a difficult situation, but you are only tasting what 11,000 Palestinian families feel every day."