'Terrorists must understand kidnappings don't pay'

Noam Schalit tells Knesset conferences that terrorist groups must know abductions will end in air strikes on their leaders.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
January 3, 2012 17:53
2 minute read.
Noam Schalit at Knesset Forum

Noam Schalit at Knesset Forum_311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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Noam Schalit, whose soldier son Gilad was released from captivity in Gaza three months ago, called upon the government and the IDF on Tuesday to threaten the heads of terrorist organizations and deter them from kidnappings.

Speaking at a Knesset conference on what price should be paid to redeem captives in the future, Schalit spoke out against a bill sponsored by the conference’s organizer, National Union MK Uri Ariel, which would ban Israel from releasing more than one prisoner for each captive.

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“I think, based on my experience, that the fight against kidnappings should be won by restoring our deterrence and not via legislation,” Schalit said. “The terrorist organizations need to know that kidnappings don’t pay off for them. The terrorist organizations need to know that kidnappings will result in strikes against the organizations and their leaders.”

Schalit said the terrorist organizations would keep trying to kidnap Israelis as long as Palestinians remained in Israeli jails. He criticized the government for not pressuring Hamas by taking away privileges from their members in Israeli prisons.

“There were essential mistakes in the negotiations for my son that led to the price that I agree was high,” he said. “It didn’t have to be this way.”

Schalit predicted that in the event of future kidnappings, governments would not be able to stand up to pressure to release prisoners. While not ruling out setting limits for how many prisoners could be released in an exchange, he mocked Ariel’s onefor- one proposal.

“We can’t tell our soldiers that they are worth only one Palestinian prisoner,” Schalit said. “What, is there a price list as if our soldiers are used cars?” Before Schalit’s speech, he sat on stage listening to Ariel, former defense minister Moshe Arens, Nobel Prize winner Prof. Robert Yisrael Aumann, and terrorism expert Dr. Boaz Ganor slamming the deal that brought his son home in exchange for 1,027 terrorists.

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“The Schalit episode ended with a big loss for Israel and a victory for Israel’s enemies that we don’t want to repeat,” Arens said. “We shouldn’t start negotiations at all, because they can’t be stopped and they will lead to another failure.”

Aumann said the Schalit deal was a “catastrophe,” because it strengthened Hamas, encouraged Israel’s enemies to kidnap soldiers and civilians, and because many of the freed prisoners would commit terrorist attacks that would kill Israelis.

Ganor proposed separating terrorists from guerrillas. He said that in battle, guerrillas could be captured and held for future exchanges. But terrorists who attacked civilians were criminals who must be convicted and serve their entire sentences.

Schalit responded by recalling that nearly 80 percent of the public backed the deal that brought his son home.

“You can’t replace the public,” he said. “I say it was a victory of the spirit of Israel, which decided that one soldier was worth 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.”

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