Two pressure levers can be utilized in order to prompt Hamas to free Gilad Shalit. However, our government is scared of criticism – mostly internal, followed by external pressure. What do I mean? We see various civil rights groups crying out in the face of every staged photo showing the “suffering” of Gaza residents. I’m not saying that many residents are not suffering. However, they chose to keep suffering.
Moreover, we are already used to seeing Hamas men stage “shocking” photos – for example, a woman giving birth next to a roadblock. And imagine that – the troops didn’t allow her to cross and travel to an Israeli hospital. Yet where are the hospitals and ambulances in Gaza, after so much money was donated to buy them?
But let’s forget about that. We are already sick and tired of those oh-so-one-sided bleeding hearts. Hamas is quite aware of our weaknesses and excels at exploiting them. There is no shortage of fuel or basic food supplies in Gaza. We merely need to ask who holds them – Hamas and its associates. The same is true for medicine and all other services. We are sick and tired of the weakness of our government, which capitulates in the face of these voices and falls into those traps.
And where are the calls on behalf of Gilad? The recent Sderot Convention saw welfare officials talking about the shortage of funds needed to rehabilitate juvenile delinquents. Yet did anyone ever calculate the huge sum we could save had we provided security prisoners only with what they deserve in line with the Geneva Convention?
I would expect the Israeli government to give them what Gilad is getting, yet they are getting much beyond what the Geneva Convention calls for. They get the same meals as IDF troops and expensive groceries that allow them to engage in gourmet cooking. They receive magazines, books, television, and the right to study. They get weight rooms, walks outside in the warm sun, expensive medical treatments, Red Cross visits, and of course - visits by their families.
Why are we transferring money?Do the math: If only we took away their television sets, university studies, high-quality food, weight rooms, and expensive treatments – we could boost the budget we have for taking care of juvenile delinquents in Israel and bring at least some of them back into society and to living a normative life. What a pity. Yet human rights groups do not speak up on behalf of our youths.
How much money has been wasted for the sake of self-righteousness and fear of criticism, under guise of humanism? We live in the Middle East. If Hamas shows no trace of humanity towards Gilad, and we have the ability to press the families of security prisoners, isn’t it our duty to first and foremost take care of our soldier? The young man we sent to defend us? This is the first lever that can rescue him.
The second lever for saving Gilad can be found in the huge sums of money transferred to Hamas. Can anyone explain to us, once and for all, the reason for handing over this money? And not through unconvincing explanations regarding the unwillingness to let Palestinian banks collapse, or the duty to transfer the salaries of Palestinians.
Every month, Hamas adds more people to its payroll while demanding more funds. Yet Israel has no ability to monitor this money the moment it is transferred. If we transfer huge sums to Hamas, this should be done only in exchange for Gilad, as ransom.
I believe that effective and practical pressure - not via opening and closing the crossings occasionally - but rather, practical pressure on Gaza residents can bring about a solution – both for the Gilad Shalit question, as well as the overall Hamas problem.
As the elections approach, Israeli society is putting the candidates to the test. Those who find the morale, morality, and supreme values of a state responsible for its soldiers more important than media spins will bring Gilad back now; we shall then put our trust in them.