Friday, June 24, 2011

EU Calls On Hamas To Release Gilad Shalit On Eve of 5th Anniversary of Capture

In just a few short hours, it will have been five years since Hamas terrorists invaded Israel and killed two Israeli soldiers and captured Gilad Shalit. The two Israeli soldiers killed were Lt. Hanan Barak, 20, of Arad and Staff-Sgt. Pavel Slutzker, 20, of Dimona. They were attacked by a Hamas cell that infiltrated into Israel through a tunnel originating from the Rafah area, passing under the security fence to the area between the Kerem Shalom and Sufa crossings. The terrorists, operating under cover of mortar and anti-tank fire from within the Gaza Strip, attacked an armored personnel carrier, an IDF tank and a watchtower. IDF forces returned fire, killing at least two terrorists. Shalit was captured in that raid.

Shalit has been held for the past five years somewhere in Gaza and Hamas refuses to provide humanitarian aid groups any access for fear that it might tip Israel off as to his whereabouts. It refuses to allow the ICRC or Red Crescent access to Shalit so as to affirm his physical condition and well-being - all in violation of international law and conventions, to say nothing of human rights.

The reason for Shalit's capture - and that Hamas infiltration operation was simple. Hamas wanted to trade Shalit's life for the release of hundreds of Palestinian terrorists sitting in Israeli jails. That calculus remains in effect, and repeated efforts to secure his release have faltered over the numbers of terrorists that Hamas demands be released as well as which terrorists are to be included.

Two years ago, Hamas and Israel agreed to the early release of several hundred Palestinians in exchange for video showing that Shalit was still alive. That was a propaganda victory for Hamas, who gets to trot out the prisoners to cheering adulation and big crowds that call for Israel's downfall.

Sadly, nothing has changed this past year, which is the same as it was the year before only that Shalit is yet another year older and another year deprived of his rights and freedom.

Hamas refuses to release Shalit unless Israel releases hundreds or thousands of Palestinians, which is suicidal for Israel to contemplate. Hamas will not release Shalit as a humanitarian aid gesture so as to induce Israel to reduce its blockade against Gaza because it would lose its primary pawn in its ongoing war against Israel.

However, this time the EU is calling on Hamas to release Shalit, and France has said that we should not foresake Shalit (Shalit is a dual-citizen with France). Earlier this year, the G8 also called for Shalit's release, but that will all fall on deaf ears; the only thing Hamas cares about is maximizing the bounty paid on Shalit - maximize the number of terrorists Israel has to release to buy Shalit his freedom.

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