The father of abducted soldier Gilad Shalit said that all Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does is "recycle Olmert's press conferences from 2009." Instead of freeing Gilad, Noam Shalit continued, the prime minister describes terrible scenarios about terrorists who were released and then murdered Israelis, "as if nothing has changed since then."
"Gilad has been in dark Hamas basements for four years, and all the prime minister can do is recycle Olmert speeches and offer a list of four things he's done for Gilad, none of which includes freeing him from Hamas," Noam Shalit said, referring to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
"Instead, the prime minister decided to draw terrible scenarios from 25 years ago and six years ago," he added, "as if Israel has no security services."
He noted that the heads of the security services and former and present chiefs of staff all support the prisoner exchange deal, "despite the high price and risks."
The soldier's father also referred to the easing of restrictions on the Gaza Strip.
Noam, Aviva and Yoel Shalit (Photo: Ido Erez)
"It saddens us that the prime minister chooses to direct the Israeli public to pressure Hamas leaders while he himself is unable to persevere in any attempts of pressuring Hamas, even the few Israel has at its disposal – such as the continued release of Hamas prisoners or the blockade of the Gaza Strip, which was one of the few effective tools remaining to Israel vis-à-vis Hamas."
"Tens of thousands of citizens marching with us this week to Jerusalem join us on this difficult and exhausting path even though they know the price that must be paid to ensure his release," Noam Shalit said. "I turn to you, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, hear the voices of those marching with us, find strength in them to take this tough decision before it is too late."
Shalit family members march to Jerusalem (Photo: Ido Erez)
Earlier Thursday, Netanyahu had laid out the government's position regarding the prisoner-exchange deal.
"In the deal presented by the German mediator, to which I agreed, there were 1,000 terrorists – that's the price I am willing to face to bring Shalit home," the prime minister said, but clarified that he would not agree to their return to the West Bank.
"I stick to two principles – the terrorists must not return to Judea and Samaria, and no arch-terrorists will be released. I agreed to the mediator's deal, but no response has yet been received from Hamas."
At the headquarters of the campaign to free Shalit, they were more straightforward.
"The question isn't whether to free prisoners, but whether to kill Gilad," they said, and said they expect Netanyahu to take risks in getting Gilad home, urging him to act and not just talk.
Hamas also commented on Netanyahu's speech, saying he was "trying to manipulate Israeli public opinion."
Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said that "there was nothing new in Netanyahu's speech. If Israel wants a deal it must accept the demands set by the Palestinian organizations." Palestinian sources familiar with the prisoner exchange negotiations told Ynet no progress has been made.
Ali Waked contributed to the report