Noam Schalit: Why is Gilad paying the price?

Captive's father slams Olmert, gov't for procrastinating; PM: Israel doing everything it can to free Gilad.

Gilad Schalit 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gilad Schalit 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Noam Schalit lashed out at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his government on Wednesday for their inability to follow through in the efforts to precipitate the release of his son, IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit, who has been held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip for over a year and a half. Schalit, who was speaking at Bar Ilan University during an event dedicated to raising awareness to the plight of soldiers being held by terror organizations, accused Olmert of hesitating and procrastinating, and contrasted the prime minister with his predecessors, who, he claimed, knew how to make decisions. The IDF was also not spared criticism from Schalit, who charged that the military could have averted the kidnapping had it paid attention to the warning signs. "The writing was on the wall even before the kidnapping, which could have been avoided," he asserted. "Why was Gilad the only one to pay the price from amongst the entire chain of command?" "He has been living in darkness for the past 21 months, cut off from the outside world," he went on. "We reiterate our warning that this is the critical time to rescue Gilad and avoid a recurrence of the Ron Arad affair. The situation in Gaza is incendiary, and at any moment someone might lose control and we will all regret missing the train." "No one can be sure that Gilad will not be hurt, perhaps even by a third party that is not swayed by Hamas's authority," he warned. "We can still save Gilad." The Student Union in Bar Ilan organized the event with the intention of keeping the issue at the top of the public agenda in Israel. Approximately 600 students took part in the event, which included a prayer for the wellbeing of the kidnapped soldiers. Olmert responded to Schalit's statements later Wednesday during a meeting with the foreign press in Jerusalem. "The government is doing everything it can to bring Gilad [Schalit] home," he said. "Noam Schalit speaks from his heart. I have a lot of respect for him and his family. I can understand where his emotions come from. However, it is not appropriate for us to debate each other in the media," the prime minister added.