Halutz: We could have bought Ron Arad's freedom

Former IDF chief-of-staff says he wanted to strike Hamas immediately after Schalit kidnapping but "the political echelon did not allow it."

Halutz not in uniform 311 (photo credit: Globes)
Halutz not in uniform 311
(photo credit: Globes)
Former IDF chief-of-staff Dan Halutz on Saturday said that Israel had the opportunity to obtain the release of captured Air Force pilot Ron Arad in exchange for money, but refused to do so.
Speaking at a cultural event in Beersheba, Halutz said of Arad, "We had the chance to buy his release in exchange for money. Out of nationalistic considerations it was decided not to do this. Some of the decision makers regretted that later."
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Halutz also discussed the kidnapping of Gilad Schalit, which took place while he was acting as the IDF's chief-of-staff.
"If it would have been possible to do something immediately, we would have, but we didn't have the intelligence information to do so," said Halutz. "I thought we should strike Hamas right after the kidnapping until they gave up and Gilad came home. The political echelon did not allow it," he added.
Halutz also discussed Israel's relations with Syria, saying "in exchange for real peace, we should withdraw from the Golan."
"The meaning of peace with Syria is exaggerated concessions in the Golan Heights. I don't know until what line. The question is if the public is ready for this or not, that's the question you need to ask. A leader that will take the deal and go with it to the people, the people will support him," said Halutz, who officially joined the Kadima party last month.