Noam Shalit. 'Gestures did not lead to progress'
Photo: Mati Elmaliach

Noam Shalit: Release prisoners only upon Gilad's return

Kidnapped soldier's father calls on government to carry out gesture to Palestinian president only after Hamas frees his son

The father of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit has called on the government to release Palestinian prisoners only after Hamas frees his son.


The cabinet on Sunday approved the release of 200 prisoners as a gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


"I am all for gestures, and I am in favor of releasing prisoners, even much more prisoners, but only after Gilad is released," Noam Shalit told Ynet.


Ever since his son was captured by Hamas, Israel has freed hundreds of prisoners in a series of such "gestures."


"These gestures," Shalit said Sunday, "did not lead to any progress. I don’t know what Hamas thinks about this, but based on past experience, this has changed nothing in regards to Gilad's condition.


Among the prisoners who are slated to be released are two Palestinians who were sentenced to long prison terms about 30 years ago. One of them actually murdered Israelis and the other sent murderers. The names of the rest of the prisoners will be brought to a ministerial committee for approval.


The Prime Minister's Office released a statement Sunday saying, "This is a gesture and a trust-building move aimed at bolstering the moderates in the Palestinian Authority and the peace process." 


Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai warned Saturday night that "releasing hundreds of murderers as virtual gestures to the Palestinians will only move (kidnapped soldier) Gilad Shalit's release further away."


"The gestures have become one-sided and unidirectional and are all done by Israel. After it has become clear that they are inefficient, the government must not be seen as groveling. This fails to serve Israel and only harms us. Any move humiliating Israel in the eyes of the Palestinian moves Shalit's release further away," Yishai said.


The Prime Minister's Office strongly rejected Yishai's remarks, stating that "not one of those released is on the lists of prisoners demanded by Hamas in return for Gilad Shalit. None of them will be included in future lists as well."


Gilad Shalit was kidnapped into the Gaza Strip 784 days ago.


פרסום ראשון: 08.17.08, 13:53
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