You may have heard. There’s this French-Israeli young man who served in the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, and was kidnapped in a cross-border raid by Hamas in June 2006. His name is Gilad Shalit. It’s not so often that an IDF soldier is snatched; the previous one was Nachson Wachsman, who had U.S. citizenship and Israeli citizenship, too. Wachsman’s parents had emigrated to Israel from Brooklyn, N.Y.
In Israel, Nachson volunteered for a commando unit and was sent to Northern Israel for a one-day training seminar. It’s a commonplace for IDF soldiers in Israel to catch rides with Israeli civilians. While hitchhiking home, Nachson was picked up by some terrorists wearing Yarmulkes, playing Chassidic (Orthodox Jewish) music with a Hebrew prayer book on the dashboard. Nachson Wachsman was killed by his captors six days later when an Israeli Special Forces team was slowed by a steel door in their rescue attempt. His three captors were also killed.
Gilad Shalit is believed by Israeli officials to be still alive, and was last seen in a 2009 video. He holds dual citizenship, too-French and Israeli. Shalit’s captivity has become an international concern because it violates natural and international law. Human rights groups have accused Hamas of torturing Corporal Shalit, which has not allowed contact even with the International Red Cross. Previous attempts at negotiating between the Israeli government and the terrorists who are holding him have been unsuccessful.
Early demands by Hamas were that the Israelis should release more than 1000 Arab prisoners who are being held in Israeli jails for having committed terrorist acts. Later negotiations led to the development that the Israelis would release 450 lower-level Arab prisoners. That deal broke down because Israel wanted to deport the released prisoners to Gaza. The Hamas government in Gaza wanted their imprisoned supporters to remain in Israel’s West Bank, and so rejected the Israeli compromise.
The kidnapping and imprisonment of Gilad Shalit, in violation of all the rules of war, is a divisive issue in Israel, as it is in other countries. Prisoner trades with terrorist organizations can encourage more kidnapping. Yet, Hamas has allowed minimal one-way communication-three letters and one video in four years of captivity-and this for the purpose of putting pressure on the Israeli government. Yet, the hardline Hamas position is typical of the way it enforces rather than governs. A battle with a rival anti-Israel terrorist faction left its leader dead and 24 other killed before Hamas re-established its authority over Gaza. What moderates there are among the Palestinians must be silent from fear.
Elected or not, the Hamas mentality should not, by the liberal magic of moral equivalency, be misunderstood. It is brutal and fascist in nature, and its naked and twisted disregard of human values is unapologetic even in cartoons it airs for children. Several typical examples can be found on YouTube, but here is a link to just onebrief Hamas cartoon. Ha-ha! The Palestinian kids will bust a gut at that one!
On Friday, thousands of Israelis and non-Israelis are demonstrating against the illegal and inhumane treatment of Sergeant Gilad Shalit. Four years ago, Shalit was captured in a pitched battle where he sustained serious wounds. It’s not only the Israelis who are petitioning and demonstrating for Shalit. According to Haaretz, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini recently told Noah Shalit, Gilad’s father, that the kidnapping and treatment of Gilad Shalit was a “violation of all international rules and shows the terrorist nature of Hamas.”
Hamas continues to defy United Nations pressure to allow a Red Cross visit. Hamas continues to prevent the International Red Cross from any contact with prisoner Gilad Shalit. Haaretz also reports that a Hamas “lawmaker” told a Hamas newspaper that the International Red Cross did not take the “military reality into account” when they made repeated requests to have contact with the Hamas kidnap victim. No doubt. Perhaps it reflects a cultural misunderstanding and lack of appreciation for Hamas torture and terror tactics. .