The exasperated family of captive soldier Gilad Schalit embarked on an SMS
campaign to save their son on Sunday, as the government and Hamas continue to
accuse each other of refusing to make a deal for a prisoner swap.
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, you do not have the right to sentence Gilad to
death,” Gilad’s father, Noam, said at a press conference after Sunday’s cabinet
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“The weakness and the stubbornness that you are showing in this
crisis is an immediate danger for Gilad’s life and health. More than that, it is
a danger for the values of the State of Israel, on which generations of Israelis
Israel has yet to receive Hamas’s formal answer to a German
proposal to secure Schalit’s release in exchange for a willingness to release
1,000 Palestinian security prisoners, Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet
He spoke just one day after the Schalit family marked the fifth
anniversary of their son’s kidnapping.
Hamas on Sunday rejected
Netanyahu’s announcement that Israel has agreed to proposals presented by a
German mediator concerning a prisoner swap to release Schalit.
spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Netanyahu was “using the policy of lies and
procrastination to cover up for his role in foiling the efforts of the German
mediator, and prevent a prisoner-exchange agreement.”
Abu Zuhri said that
Netanyahu bears full responsibility for hindering efforts to achieve a prisoner
At the press conference, Noam Schalit asked all Israelis who
support a prisoner swap to send an SMS to 5252. It is also possible to signify
support by entering the webpage www.gilad.org.
“We are asking all the
people in Israel to vote and to say that ‘I’m for the deal that is now lying on
the prime minister’s table,’” said Shimshon Liebman, head of the Campaign to
Liebman added that the organization was also intending to run
an ad campaign to promote support for the deal, with statements from security
experts in support of the swap.
Netanayahu told the cabinet that Israel
in 2010 had “received a proposal from the German mediator.”
proposal was difficult,” he said, adding, “It was not simple for the State of
However, we agreed to accept it in the belief that it was
balanced between our desire to secure Gilad’s release and to prevent possible
harm to the lives and security of the Israeli people. As of now, we have yet to
receive Hamas’s official answer to the German mediator’s proposal.”
the beginning of 2010, Israel agreed to release 450 security prisoners, based on
a list sent to them by Hamas.
Another 550 prisoners, based on a list
compiled by Israel, would be unilaterally released as a gesture to the
Among the 450 prisoners agreed to in negotiations
with Hamas, more than 100 are convicted terrorists with “blood on their
Israel made clear it would not release what it has called
“mega-terrorists” – those responsible for some of the worst
Israeli is also demanding that the released terrorists not be
allowed back into the West Bank, and instead be sent either to Gaza or deported
Noam Schalit explained that the terms of the deal had been set
already in 2007, when then-prime minister Ehud Olmert allowed Hamas to set the
terms of the 450 list. He added that the additional 550 Palestinian prisoners
would be freed only after his son had been released.
“For Gilad there is
no more time – in captivity there is no tomorrow,” said Schalit. “Bring him home
before it is too late, before there is no longer anyone to bring
Additionally, Schalit took issue with the argument that releasing
terrorists would endanger Israelis. In many cases the deal allows prisoners who
would have been freed to go home earlier than scheduled, he said.
whether or not there is a deal, many of the prisoners would still be released,
he added. Schalit said that he believed the IDF could handle any security threat
posed by the released prisoners.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu said Gilad was
being held “by a cruel enemy, Hamas, which refuses to uphold the minimal demands
of the international conventions... It has refused to allow him even one visit
by the International Committee of the Red Cross. It is holding him in harsh
conditions and we know how his family is suffering. I think that the entire
nation and all fair and just people in the world are incensed at what Hamas is
Netanyahu said that the government has applied heavy
international pressure, and repeated what he said Thursday that “we have also
decided to change the conditions of [Hamas] prisoners. That party is
The prime minister said Israel was “ready to go far – more than
any other country – in order to secure Gilad’s release, but it is my
responsibility, and the responsibility of those who are sitting here to be
concerned about the lives and security of all Israeli citizens.”
Netanyahu’s words did not placate Schalit’s family.
grandfather Zvi said that Netanyahu is the greatest obstacle to his grandson’s
“The prime minister is my grandson’s enemy number one,” he told
Army Radio. “I foresee my grandson dying there... Netanyahu insists that [Gilad]
return to us in a coffin, wrapped in the national flag.”