Parents of abducted soldier demand explanation of Gaza truce

Sunday, June 22, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff

The parents of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit on Saturday petitioned Israel's Supreme Court to demand an explanation from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak over why they agreed to a ceasefire with Hamas without conditioning it on the release of their son.

Shalit has been held by Hamas-allied terrorists in Gaza since being kidnapped in June of 2006. His release was originally one of Israel's main conditions for agreeing to the current Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, though it was quietly dropped when it became clear Hamas would not yield.

Olmert, Livni and Barak still insist Shalit's fate is a primary focus of the truce deal, but the boy's parents no longer have faith in the national leadership.

Shalit's parents and many other Israelis point out that Hamas was greatly in need of this time of calm in order to regroup, and that Israel could have more aggressively leveraged that fact to secure Gilad's freedom. But government negotiators apparently gave up too quickly when faced with firm Hamas insistence that the soldier would only be released in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian terrorists currently imprisoned by Israel.

The government has expressed a willingness to swap jailed terrorists for Shalit, but has stated that Hamas' list of the 450 detainees it wants freed is both too large and contains too many senior figures.

But Hamas has been encouraged to continue pursuing the list by the very fact that Israel is today willing to conduct an exchange with the terror group. When Shalit was captured two years ago, Olmert insisted he would never give in to terrorist blackmail by negotiating a swap with Hamas.

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