Steinitz: Kidnapping is IDF failure

Meretz slams Olmert for ruling out negotiations with Shalit's captors.

A day after they took turns criticizing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for his handling of the Kerem Shalom incident, members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee shifted their criticism on Tuesday to the IDF. Committee members said the IDF should have prevented the Palestinian infiltration into the position outside Kerem Shalom, where two soldiers were killed and Cpl. Gilad Shalit was kidnapped. The MKs also indirectly criticized the victims themselves for not fighting off the terrorists properly. Likud MK Yuval Steinitz, a former chairman of the committee, said the incident brought shame to the IDF. He said the way for the army to redeem itself would be to embark on an operation in the Gaza Strip reminiscent of Defensive Shield in the West Bank. "It was a failure on the part of the IDF," Steinitz said. "Just like we praise the IDF for its successes, we have to acknowledge its failures. A battle between an IDF tank and terrorists with an RPG should have ended differently, especially when the soldiers had a warning as it is clear now that they did." Labor MK Danny Yatom issued similar criticism and said he was not afraid of demoralizing the army. But Committee Chairman MK Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima), MK Effi Eitam (National Union-National Religious Party) and MK Silvan Shalom (Likud) said the criticism was uncalled for. "The IDF is not above criticism, and there was a big blunder," Shalom said. "But we need to wait for the commission of inquiry that is investigating the incident before we can reach conclusions. This is not the right time to declare a failure on the part of the security services and look for whom to blame." Meretz MKs meanwhile slammed Olmert for ruling out negotiations with Shalit's captors. MK Zehava Gal-On said that in doing so, Olmert might have endangered Shalit's life. MK Ran Cohen said Israel should consider releasing Palestinian prisoners if it would help bring Shalit home.