Sunday's court proceedings regarding the Schalit petition

June 23, 2008 12:10
3 minute read.


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Sunday's hearing, which had been scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., started two hours later because the state could not find a government official to sign an affidavit testifying to the accuracy of the state's response to the petition. The court held a short public session and then, at the state's request, held a lengthy closed door hearing with state representatives to read and receive explanations about the June 11 security cabinet decision. The closed door hearing recessed until 4 p.m. when Amos Gilad arrived to provide the court with further classified explanations. An hour later, Schalit, his lawyers and the public were invited back to the courtroom, where Levy raised his proposal. During the brief morning hearing, Noam Schalit addressed the court, reading from a text he had prepared earlier in the morning. He spoke without pathos or melodrama. "As far as we are concerned, the honorable court is the last solution for saving Gilad, who is in a dark cellar in Gaza," said Schalit. "The cease-fire agreement is the last, irretrievable opportunity to save Gilad, an irretrievable window of opportunity for Israel to force Hamas to come to the negotiating table from a position of strength, from a position in which Israel has leverage. The moment it loses the little that is left of that leverage, the border crossings, Hamas will not come readily to the negotiating table and will not hurry to finish the affair." In its formal response to the petition, the state argued that the cease-fire agreement was purely a government affair since it dealt with the foreign relations and security of the state. The court, wrote Attorney Dana Briskman, does not intervene in such matters. Briskman also wrote that "the question of Gilad Schalit is an integral element of the details of the agreements, as we will explain in the hearing which we will ask the court to hold behind closed doors." She also warned, as Attorney Osnat Mandel, head of the High Court Petition section of the State Attorney's Office had warned in court, that "the consequence of the petitioners' request is that Israel will violate the arrangement regarding the cease-fire in Gaza. This could have far-reaching political and security ramifications. The government reached the best possible arrangement under the circumstances, in terms of the cease-fire, the welfare of Israeli citizens living in the south and the western Negev, the IDF and as far as the chances for freeing Staff-Sergeant Gilad Schalit." In another development, Tami Arad, the wife of IAF navigator Ron Arad who was captured by Shi'ite militiamen in southern Lebanon in 1986, called on the government to help the Schalits and warned it not to make the same mistakes it had made with her husband. "Twenty-two years later, I hear Ron echoing in the silent voice of Gilad. Gilad is pleading for his life and I believe your ears are blocked," she wrote. Arad wrote that she could not put herself in the place of families whose loved ones had been killed by terrorists but knew her own suffering as the wife of a missing soldier. "I can only appeal in my own name, to describe the feeling of having missed the opportunity and of unforgivable loss when your loved one is alive, breathing, longing for his family, [but] left to his fate," she wrote. "I have locked deep in my heart the facial features of Ron as they appeared in the photos from his captivity. This wasn't the Ron that I knew, the opinionated, proud man with the self-image of a space scientist, because in captivity there is no pride, just a gun pointed at one's head. Ron is not coming back. Twenty-two years later, and no reply. Twenty-two years and Ron was unable to revel in the efforts to bring him home, because they came too late."

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