A public campaign has been launched to have the conditions of Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails downgraded to those required by international law. Organizers say such a move could help Gilad Shalit and will reduce terrorist motivation to kidnap more IDF soldiers.
At a news conference kicking off the campaign, chairman Eli Avidar said, “It is a theater of the absurd in which Hamas terrorists enjoy five-star hotel conditions in Israeli jails, above and beyond the basic conditions that the Third Geneva Convention requires. It is this situation that delays and impedes the talks for the release of Gilad Shalit, whose condition is deteriorating, and also increases the terrorists’ motivation to kidnap other soldiers.”
Shalit was kidnapped nearly four years ago shortly before his 20th birthday when he was serving in the IDF on the Gaza-Israel border. Hamas-affiliated terrorists killed two soldiers and smuggled Shalit under the border into Gaza; he has not once been visited by Israeli or neutral elements.
Avidar noted that the families of terrorist prisoners are similar to Israelis in their sensitivity to the conditions of their prisoners: “If we do not cause a situation in which they pressure their leaders, and if we allow them to increase their demands in talks for Shalit, the chances to free Gilad will continue to diminish.”
The campaign is backed by former Israeli captive war prisoners, parents of captives who were murdered by terrorists, terror victims groups, and others.
Micki Goldwasser, mother of Ehud, who was kidnapped and murdered by Hizbullah terrorists four years ago, spoke at the press conference and expressed puzzlement that no civil-rights group representatives were there. “In the past, I have tried to interest them in the cause of downgrading the conditions of terrorists to those of the Geneva Charter, but they refused… The cost of treating the terrorists so kindly is in the hundreds of millions of shekels, money that belongs to all of us and that could be used for the advancement of education and prevention of car accidents. The terrorists are in good shape, at the expense of our youth.”
Chaim Avraham, whose son Benny was similarly abducted and killed by Hizbullah nearly a decade ago, said, “Amnesty, which says it protects prisoners, is a fundamentally anti-Semitic organization… The time has come for Israel to act not like a democracy, but like a country that wishes to protect its democracy.” He castigated the Supreme Court for insisting that the terrorists receive five-star conditions.
Ze’ev Rapp, whose daughter Helena was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 1992, said that after he apprised the government of the results of his survey on the extraordinarily good conditions enjoyed by terrorists in prison, the government sent him a response saying that Israel is an “enlightened country.” He said that he then “checked another enlightened country, the United States, and I found that the prisoners suffer from very difficult conditions. I was told that this is the way to educate them… The murderer of my daughter admitted that he knew that he was in danger for as long as he was not caught, and that if he was actually caught, his situation would be much better than before.”
“We are not an enlightened nation,” Rapp said, “but rather a nation of scaredy-cats. Until we stop giving them cream and other luxuries, we will increase their appetite to abduct more Israelis and torture them in captivity with no limitations.”
Meanwhile, the Hamas "Falesteen" journal in Gaza continued its psychological warfare against Israel by publishing this week what it called a "rare and special" interview with Gilad Shalit. Only at the end of the “interview” did the article state that it was in fact a “then I woke up” article and had actually never happened.