'Netanyahu doesn't have right to sentence Gilad to death'

Noam Schalit slams PM who says Israel accepted prisoner swap proposal; Hamas accuses PM of lying to hide role in foiling mediator.

Noam Aviva Gilad Schalit 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Noam Aviva Gilad Schalit 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The exasperated family of captive soldier Gilad Schalit embarked on an SMS campaign to save their son on Sunday, as the government and Hamas continue to accuse each other of refusing to make a deal for a prisoner swap.
“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, you do not have the right to sentence Gilad to death,” Gilad’s father, Noam, said at a press conference after Sunday’s cabinet meeting.
RELATED:Prosor urges Ban to intervene on Schalit’s behalfGroup protests state’s failure to bring Schalit homeHamas: Revoking prisoners' privileges is against int'l lawPhoto gallery: Schalit rallies in Israel, around the world“The weakness and the stubbornness that you are showing in this crisis is an immediate danger for Gilad’s life and health. More than that, it is a danger for the values of the State of Israel, on which generations of Israelis were raised.”
Israel has yet to receive Hamas’s formal answer to a German proposal to secure Schalit’s release in exchange for a willingness to release 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners, Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet session.
He spoke just one day after the Schalit family marked the fifth anniversary of their son’s kidnapping.
Hamas on Sunday rejected Netanyahu’s announcement that Israel has agreed to proposals presented by a German mediator concerning a prisoner swap to release Schalit.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Netanyahu was “using the policy of lies and procrastination to cover up for his role in foiling the efforts of the German mediator, and prevent a prisoner-exchange agreement.”
Abu Zuhri said that Netanyahu bears full responsibility for hindering efforts to achieve a prisoner deal.
At the press conference, Noam Schalit asked all Israelis who support a prisoner swap to send an SMS to 5252. It is also possible to signify support by entering the webpage www.gilad.org.
“We are asking all the people in Israel to vote and to say that ‘I’m for the deal that is now lying on the prime minister’s table,’” said Shimshon Liebman, head of the Campaign to Free Gilad.
Liebman added that the organization was also intending to run an ad campaign to promote support for the deal, with statements from security experts in support of the swap.
Netanayahu told the cabinet that Israel in 2010 had “received a proposal from the German mediator.”
“This proposal was difficult,” he said, adding, “It was not simple for the State of Israel.
However, we agreed to accept it in the belief that it was balanced between our desire to secure Gilad’s release and to prevent possible harm to the lives and security of the Israeli people. As of now, we have yet to receive Hamas’s official answer to the German mediator’s proposal.”
In the beginning of 2010, Israel agreed to release 450 security prisoners, based on a list sent to them by Hamas.
Another 550 prisoners, based on a list compiled by Israel, would be unilaterally released as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority.
Among the 450 prisoners agreed to in negotiations with Hamas, more than 100 are convicted terrorists with “blood on their hands.”
Israel made clear it would not release what it has called “mega-terrorists” – those responsible for some of the worst atrocities.
Israeli is also demanding that the released terrorists not be allowed back into the West Bank, and instead be sent either to Gaza or deported abroad.
Noam Schalit explained that the terms of the deal had been set already in 2007, when then-prime minister Ehud Olmert allowed Hamas to set the terms of the 450 list. He added that the additional 550 Palestinian prisoners would be freed only after his son had been released.
“For Gilad there is no more time – in captivity there is no tomorrow,” said Schalit. “Bring him home before it is too late, before there is no longer anyone to bring back.
Additionally, Schalit took issue with the argument that releasing terrorists would endanger Israelis. In many cases the deal allows prisoners who would have been freed to go home earlier than scheduled, he said.
But whether or not there is a deal, many of the prisoners would still be released, he added. Schalit said that he believed the IDF could handle any security threat posed by the released prisoners.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu said Gilad was being held “by a cruel enemy, Hamas, which refuses to uphold the minimal demands of the international conventions... It has refused to allow him even one visit by the International Committee of the Red Cross. It is holding him in harsh conditions and we know how his family is suffering. I think that the entire nation and all fair and just people in the world are incensed at what Hamas is doing.”
Netanyahu said that the government has applied heavy international pressure, and repeated what he said Thursday that “we have also decided to change the conditions of [Hamas] prisoners. That party is over.”
The prime minister said Israel was “ready to go far – more than any other country – in order to secure Gilad’s release, but it is my responsibility, and the responsibility of those who are sitting here to be concerned about the lives and security of all Israeli citizens.”
Still, Netanyahu’s words did not placate Schalit’s family.
Indeed, Gilad’s grandfather Zvi said that Netanyahu is the greatest obstacle to his grandson’s freedom.
“The prime minister is my grandson’s enemy number one,” he told Army Radio. “I foresee my grandson dying there... Netanyahu insists that [Gilad] return to us in a coffin, wrapped in the national flag.”