Three Israelis are apparently held by Hamas along with the bodies of two soldiers, and the heart aches for their families.
Abera Mengistu entered the Gaza Strip in 2014, Hisham Shaaban al-Sayed entered in 2015, and Juma Ibrahim Abu Anima entered in 2016. The three of them entered the Gaza Strip of their own accord. All three are reportedly mentally ill. The late Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin fell in battle in Operation Protective Edge three years ago.
For a long time there has been a campaign to bring back the captives and bodies.
We were already in this situation with the struggle for the release of Gilad Shalit—who was a regular soldier when he was kidnapped by Hamas. There had already been prisoner exchange deals, all of which were disgraceful. There had already been deals that increased the appetite of the terrorist organizations. But the disgrace of the Shalit deal surpassed them all.
It was clear that some of those released from the deal, whose only expertise was terror, would return to their previous occupation. It was clear that just as 180 Israelis had been murdered by those released from previous deals, Israelis would also pay their lives in the wake of the new deal.
And that's exactly what happened. One of the released prisoners, Mahmoud Kawasmeh, initiated and commanded the kidnapping and murder of three youths in 2014. All in all, at least eight Israelis are known to have been murdered by those released.
Leah Goldin, the mother of Hadar Goldin, has become the most prominent spokesperson of the current struggle, and her statements are becoming more extreme.
One cannot judge a person in their grief. But the one who hurts, is not always the one who's right.
Goldin claimed that they were paying the price for the Shalit deal. It only means that maybe, just maybe, the decision makers understood that with all due respect to the families' struggle, there is no need for another concession that will only increase the level of terrorism.
Most importantly, we have to say what is not really pleasant to say: The fate of bodies and detainees who have entered the Gaza Strip of their own accord is unlike that of a soldier who was abducted during operational service.
Following the resignation of coordinator of activities on the subject of POWs and MIAs, Lior Lotan, Leah Goldin said: "I do not know who the real enemy is. He resigned because his initiatives were sabotaged." As for the defense minister, she added: "What mandate does he have to send soldiers to war if he does not want to return them home? What are these soldiers to him, disposable cups?"
On Sunday, at a press conference, the Goldin family framed Lieberman as "weak and cowardly." Lieberman responded with restraint. He repeated that we must not repeat the mistakes of the Shalit deal.
Netanyahu and Lieberman must take into account the pain of the families, which is the pain of most Israelis, but they also have to do, most importantly, what is best for the nation. And according to that, there is no room for another chapter in the march of folly.
And no, it's not simple. After all, we are dealing with the people's lives. The Goldin family does not pressure for the release of terrorists. It demands tougher treatment of the Gaza Strip and prisoners of Hamas as a means of exerting pressure on the government in Gaza.
Why should we transfer fuel and raw materials? Why not stipulate our ongoing supply of the strip in the return of the prisoners and bodies? Because it is doubtful whether, in the difficult conditions in Gaza, this will accomplish anything.
After all, the residents of Gaza have never been the main concern of Hamas leaders. After all, long ago Hamas could have decided on an agenda of growth and prosperity instead of investing in an industry of death, but its choice is known.
Will further pressure lead to change? Depends on what change you seek, as the greater the distress in the Gaza Strip, the more Hamas receives international support.
The detainees will not be released, but there will be more flotillas of "rights activists." More hardships will not bring hundreds of thousands to the streets to demonstrate against Hamas's new leader, Yahya Sinwar, who was released from the Shalit deal himself. On the contrary, it will strengthen Hamas.
Israel must make every effort to bring about the release of the detainees and the bodies. But "every effort" is not "any price," and the confusion between the two concepts has already cost us in blood.