Miki Goldwasser: Push aside the primaries

Fallen soldier's mother says politicians care more about upcoming elections than freeing Gilad Schalit.

miki goldwasser 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
miki goldwasser 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Politicians care more about the upcoming elections than they do about freeing Gilad Schalit, said Miki Goldwasser, who traveled to the southern border on Wednesday to help the young man's friends mark his 22nd birthday, his third in captivity. "Push aside the primaries," she said, and unite to free Schalit from Hamas. The event was one of Goldwasser's first public appearances since her son Ehud's body was returned to Israel last month, two years after he was killed by Hizbullah. Almost immediately after learning of his fate in July, she promised to fight for Gilad's release. "I don't know why the politicians are not doing more, maybe they are busy with other things, like the primaries," she told reporters. Looking out at the small crowd of friends who had gathered at the edge of Kibbutz Sufa close to where Schalit was captured, one day before Schalit's birthday on the 28th, she called on Palestinian mothers to free their children from the tyranny of Hamas, who she said was pushing them onto a path of violence. "A mother doesn't send her children off to die," Goldwasser said. She urged them also to pressure Hamas to make a deal so that the Hamas prisoners held by Israel could be returned in exchange for Schalit. "So today I call on you to join the battle to free your children." Just like they would not want their children to celebrate the Ramadan holiday away from home, so too, she said, the Schalit family wants Gilad home for the upcoming Rosh Hashana holiday. Schalit's father Noam, who was not at the event, told army radio that he too believed that political infighting and the primaries were hampering efforts to free his son. "I don't see any effort being made by the prime minister and others to deal with this," he said. Noam's bitterness was echoed by Schalit's commander, Dagan Shohar, who said that they had picked this spot for the rally because it was the last place that Schalit had walked as a free man. Behind him as he spoke hung a large sign which read, "The fight is not over until Schalit is returned." "Gilad Schalit is not home because our politicians are afraid to make hard decisions, because they fear for their political standing and worry only about their own good," Shohar said. Releasing Schalit has not been on their priority list, not even for one day, he said. He warned that soldiers won't want fight for a nation that does not fight for them. "This government," he said, "is weak and defeated. It worries more about the other side than it does its own citizens," he said. Edna Hakani said that as a mother who had lost her son, Aviv, in an explosion in Gaza in May 2004, she wanted the government to do everything possible, including freeing Hamas terrorists - even those who killed her son, if it meant returning Schalit home. Although it had been clear that her son had most likely been killed, the four days until the IDF confirmed his death were nerve-wracking, she said. "I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. I shook all over. And that was just for four days. Imagine what a mother would feel not knowing what had befallen her son for 794 days." A former captive soldier, Rami Doron, who was held by Egyptians after the Yom Kippur war, he said he believed Hamas was using the government's apathy to break Schalit's spirit, just as the Egyptians had done to him. "Look, they are telling him, you don't interest anyone," he said. On Thursday, which is Schalit's actual birthday, his family and friends plan to hold a celebration in Mitzpe Hila and a rally simultaneously in Tel Aviv.