"Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who declared that it was his job to bring about the kidnapped soldiers' release, remains hesitant and is delaying decisions on the matter," the father of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit said Wednesday.
"Why should Gilad be the only sucker to pay the price?" Noam Shalit told a solidarity rally held at Bar-Ilan University organized by the Students' Union.
Shalit was abducted in a cross border raid on an IDF outpost near Gaza by Palestinian terrorists on June 25, 2006.
Noam Shalit, who has kept silent amid recent reports of progress in the negotiations with Hamas on a possible prisoner exchange deal, added "I ask the prime minister, who said he would personally address the issue of the kidnapped soldiers, Why, out of the entire chain of command that is linked to the kidnapping fiasco, should Corporal Gilad Shalit be the only one to pay the price?
Noam Shalit prays for his son at Bar-Ilan (Photo: Roee Mandel)
"Olmert claims that great efforts are being exerted (to free Gilad Shalit), but I can only assess the situation according to the success rate – which currently stands at zero," the soldier's father said.
"(Former Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon, despite the opposition to the prisoner exchange deal for the return of Elhanan Tannenbaum, said 'I will not leave any Jew with those animals'."
Tannenbaum, an Israeli businessman army reserve colonel who was kidnapped by Hizbullah in October 2000 was returned to Israel in 2004 along with the bodies of three IDF soldiers in exchange for the release of 430 Arab prisoners.
Shalit continued to say that "(Former Prime Minister and current Likud leader) Benjamin Netanyahu did not hesitate when the two Mossad agents were caught in Amman, Jordan (following a failed attempt to poison Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal), and released two arch-terrorists in exchange for their return.
"A prime minister is elected precisely for this; he is the ship's captain, and it is up to him to make a decision."
Noam Shalit warned that the volatile situation in Gaza may put his son's life at risk. "He has been in the dark for 21 months now – detached from the outside world. We say again - we are at a critical point in which we can save Gilad and prevent another Ron Arad case.
"The situation in Gaza is explosive, and no one can say with certainty that no harm will come to Gilad; he can even be harmed by a group that is not under Hamas' control. Gilad can still be saved," he said.
As for the government's dilemma regarding the possible release of prisoners with "blood on their hands", Noam Shalit said "it is not easy to tell the victims of terror 'the murderers of your children are being set free, but we must free murderers in order to save an Israeli soldier'.
"To those who say that an IDF soldier must consider the possibility that he or she may not return home, I say: In which army did you serve? Which code of ethics were you brought up on?" he said.