Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gilad Shalit, The Real First Obstacle to Peace

Today marks three years since Hamas went into Israel proper and captured then 19 year old Gilad Shalit. The pain of his kidnapping was felt across Israeli society and by Jews around the world. His lack of freedom continues to be an open wound in the heart of Israeli society.

For the last 3 years Hamas has tried to leverage the plight of this one man into political gain. Hamas is happy to commit war crimes by refusing to follow the Geneva Convention for Prisoners of War. They have denied the International Red Cross access to him. They have not permitted communication with his family. They have refused to confirm he is even alive. Shortly before Operation Cast Lead they held a rally where thousands of cheering supporters witnessed a play where an actor playing Shalit begged to be returned to his mommy and daddy.

Hamas set the price of his freedom at 1000 prisoners. Some of those prisoners are serving multiple and double digit life sentences for carrying out restaurants and night clubs. Ahlam Tamimi is serving 16 life sentences for her role in the Sbarro bombing. Killed in that attack was a family 2 adults and 3 chilren aged 14, 4 , 2. She has expressed no remorse for the attack and even takes satisfaction out of the children who were killled. Abdallah Barghouti is serving 67 life sentences for his role in bomb making in various attacks. To lump these two in as political prisoners would be inconceivable by any other country in the world.

Hamas has one goal. It is the destruction of Israel. Hamas is willing to sacrifice the well being of their own people in order to make Israel look bad. Israeli society is not willing to make concessions towards any sort of peace plan before the return of Shalit. The soldiers who went into Gaza felt that they were on a mission for his rescue. When the operation was called off, messages were spray painted on walls saying that they had been looking for him.

Shalit is the key to advancing the well being of the Palestians. If he goes home safe and sound it opens up an entire world of possibilities. It is time for the world to put pressure on Hamas for his unconditional release. Anything less is unacceptable by International law and those who sincerly want to improve Palestinian lives.

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