It’s not a coincidence. You are not the only ones who feel this way. The Shalit family and the many activists working to secure Gilad’s release are also aware of the current situation: Israel and Hamas reached full understandings, via the German mediator and with Egypt’s approval. There was a deal. There was a meeting of the forum of top seven ministers. There was a videotape sent to Israel as part of the process. Both sides waited for an official response from Hamas’ leadership abroad; yet it never arrived.
It’s important to understand that Gilad Shalit is not held but people who do not wish to finalize a deal; rather, they are simply unable to make a deal. It’s too much for them. And this is precisely the time to start thinking and acting out of the box; to do things differently. This is the time to exert pressure elsewhere.
For example, we need to press Palestinian prisoners. It’s unthinkable that while Shalit rots away in some dark Gaza cellar, Marwan Barghouti is completing his PhD studies in an Israeli prison. It’s disproportional and it’s also insane. It’s unthinkable that Shalit does not get Red Cross visits, while the most despicable terrorists regularly meet with their spouses.
We also need to engage in psychological warfare on the Palestinian Street. We need powerful and invasive pressure to be exerted at the families of prisoners. They must realize that there is a real possibility of them meeting with their loved ones, but that this also may never happen. They must understand that the narrative presented by Hamas, which is seemingly concerned for the prisoners’ wellbeing, is not real.
Arrests instead of talksI asked Defense Minister Ehud Barak in the past why we’re not trying to rescue Shalit via a military operation. It was an off-the-record conversation, and I will only say that his answer convinced me. Let’s assume for the sake of discussion that there is no possibility to carry out such operation and that if we carry it out nonetheless, 20 soldiers will die, including Shalit himself. We need to trust the defense minister on this issue. He has proven himself on more than one occasion in the past in respect to securing the release of hostages.
But what about additional arrests? Why aren’t we applying the method used in the past and start detaining, methodically, Hamas bargaining chips? Why isn’t there an unequivocal order to this effect?
The illusions whereby negotiations are ongoing and we must not undermine them should be removed from the agenda. On the other side, we have people who cannot finalize a deal. We can’t talk to them. And if we can’t talk to them, we should arrest them.