'We’ll change policy of releasing prisoners en masse'

Barak says Schalit deal strengthened solidarity but warns approach to kidnappings must change: "This slippery slope has to stop."

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October 23, 2011 20:30
1 minute read.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

ehud barak 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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Israel must change its approach to kidnap situations, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Channel 2 on Sunday night.

Asked whether he had a message for Hamas and its military chief, Ahmed Jabari, on the consequences of a future kidnap attempt, Barak responded, “I don’t think I have to say anything publicly via television screens. Hamas understands that it’s not worth its while to try this again. As we are a learning nation, we don’t want to return to this.”

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The defense minister said Israel would “do what we have to do” to ensure that it does not release such a large amount of prisoners in future kidnapping instances, adding, “Jabari and Hamas will understand the change.”

Barak said that a “life-loving country cannot continue” to release over 1000 prisoners for a soldier. “This slippery slope has to stop. A change is needed.”

Barak said Schalit was likely held in southern Gaza during his captivity.

He denied that Israel was weakened by the Schalit exchange deal, saying, “It strengthened solidarity. We lived up to an unwritten code on protecting soldiers who went out on missions and find themselves kidnapped. We have a supreme obligation to them.”



The defense minister said it was obvious that Hamas had created an achievement through the deal with Israel, but added that the 550 security prisoners slated to be released soon will be “much less” dangerous than the first 477 who were released.

Speaking at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the last two weeks in which the government was working to secure the release of Schalit were “out of the ordinary,” but now it was time to “continue to work hard at the many challenges facing us and get back to routine.”

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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