RAMALLAH, June 25 (JMCC) - Four years after Israel Defense Force soldier Gilad Shalit was captured by Palestinian armed men in the Gaza Strip
, Haaretz’s Amos Harel reflects on the missed opportunities on the part of the Israeli government to secure his release. On Friday hundreds of Israelis marked the anniversary with street protests across the country.
Israel's governments had three opportunities to free Shalit since he was taken prisoner in June 2006. One was right after the abduction, when Hamas' leaders in the Gaza Strip were not yet fully aware of the asset they held and were subject to the Israeli military attack of Operation Summer Rains.Read
This opportunity was missed because Ehud Olmert's government got entangled in the Second Lebanon War and the prime minister came out with statements - not implemented for years in Israel - that we do not negotiate with terrorists.
The second opportunity emerged at the end of Olmert's term in February-March 2009. Gaza was in shock following Operation Cast Lead and Olmert wanted to clear his desk and resolve the Shalit affair before handing over the reins to Benjamin Netanyahu. Despite the apparently favorable terms, a deal did not happen.
Behind the scenes, Olmert's people accused Defense Minister Ehud Barak of foiling the deal. They said Barak's visit to the Shalit family's protest tent led Hamas leaders to believe they could continue to twist Israel's arm.
The cabinet's decision to ease the blockade on Gaza has eliminated the controversial option of putting pressure on Hamas, a move whose results were dubious to begin with. In the past two weeks, amid growing frustration with Netanyahu and the approaching fourth anniversary of Shalit's abduction, his family and the activists campaigning to free him have organized a mass march to pressure the cabinet to make a deal.
more at Haaretz