Hotovely: “how to bring Gilad home”

By Tzipi Hotovely, Israel Hayom
The time has come for another opinion to enter the public discourse over how to bring Gilad home. The importance of the struggle lies not just in saving captives, but in the bigger picture of our relations with Hamas, which threaten our entire southern border. Therefore I decided to attend the rally, despite the fact that I oppose the deal, because I thought it was necessary to say what I think we should do.

On the economic front, Israel’s government should stop transferring money to Gaza. Funds transferred each month in the framework of agreements with the Palestinian Authority also reach Hamas. By taking advantage of the fact that Fatah has signed a unity deal with Hamas, a terrorist organization, we could improve our image in the international arena and justify the blocking of funds to the Gaza Strip. Additionally, Israel has the power to prevent UNRWA trucks, which bring in $13.5 million in cash monthly, from entering Gaza. These funds are used to support unhindered terrorism and smuggling efforts.

Israel also has military options at its disposal: In the past, Mustafa Dirani, a former leader of the Lebanese Shiite militia group Amal, and Sheikh Abdul Karim Obeid, a former Hezbollah leader, were kidnapped as bargaining chips for the return of Ron Arad. Even a policy of targeted killings could be a deterrent. As long as the leadership in Hamas feels confident and does not fear for its life, they will perceive Gilad as an asset, not a burden.

I also demand a significant downgrade in prison conditions for Hamas prisoners, who currently enjoy family visits in a summer camp-like setting in Israeli prisons, while Gilad is not allowed even a single visit from the Red Cross. Unfortunately, legislation on this subject was frozen by the government, even after I personally approached the prime minister on the issue.

A few months ago, I met Noam and Aviva Shalit at the Knesset. This noble couple, who are leading an uncompromising campaign for the release of their son, agreed with me that the government needs to toughen its stance towards Hamas and that there were actions the government could have taken the moment Shalit was abducted which have still not been explored. Because their struggle has not born fruit over the years, the Shalits have been losing confidence in the government’s ability to bring their son home. No doubt the Shalit family is justified. This is precisely why the prime minister’s stance vis-à-vis public pressure for a prisoner deal requires him to act more forcefully and truly utilize all the tools that he has at his disposal.

There is public consensus with respect to Gilad Shalit: a desire to see him return home. But there are also deep divisions on how to make this happen. The divisions are not between people from the right and the left, however, but between those who think we have to agree to the prisoner swap at any price and those who think that the deal, with its current parameters, is disastrous because it can strengthen Hamas’s status in the eyes of the Palestinian people or because there will be serious security consequences if we allow the massive release of despicable murderers.

We must, therefore, return to the worldview that guided Israel in years past: We will not succumb to blackmail by terrorist organizations.

September 1, 2011 | 4 Comments »

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  1. Hamas’ kidnapping of Gilad Shalit was a violation of the Genva Conventions. Nations barking that Israel is using collective punishment when it responds to mohammedan terror and is using disproportionate force and extrajudicial methods should have been told to shut up years ago. The Red Cross has no business in visiting terrorist criminals in Israeli jails as those curs are not prosoners of war. If Israel mistakenly treats that scum as prisoners of war, those murderers should be tried for war crimes and should be punished accordingly. Equally, if they are prisoners of war, someone should tell the negotiators, that POWs are released at the end of a conflict. The way to get Gilad back is to turn off water and electricity to Gaza, to retake and seal the Philadelphi Corridor and to stop the transfer of food and medicines to Gaza until Gilad is returned. Collective punishment? Yes, but so is the terror bombardment of Sderot. None condemned the carpet bombing of German cities during WW2, because the Allies were simply retaliating. Israeli retaliation should then be rejected clearly and plainly as the antisemitic hypocrisy that it has been and would be.

  2. How’s about dropping a bomb on Hamas’s head as a starter. I saw a pic of the beautiful city hall. A building such as that would be a waste if it were to go without informing Hamas of the event beforehand.