An official with the Palestinian Authority has defended the Hamas terror organization, saying it was not Hamas terrorists who kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
The comments were made by the PA’s representative in Belgium, Leila Shahid, during a discussion initiated by Deputy Minister Ayoob Kara (Likud). The discussion was held in the Belgian parliament’s foreign affairs committee and was attended by the Director of Kara’s office, Israel’s Ambassador to Belgium Tamar Samash, Shahid, and other committee members.
Shahid claimed during the discussion that it was a terror organization other than Hamas who kidnapped Shalit and transferred him to Hamas, who holds him to this day.
Her comments are not completely accurate, as Shalit was kidnapped by a group of terrorists consisting of members of Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and the Army of Islam terrorist groups. The latter has been linked to the international Al Qaeda terrorist organization, which has infiltrated Gaza.
Shahid went further to justify the kidnapping, saying, “I understand the Shalit family and believe we have to release Gilad, but Israel must release prisoners of Fatah, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad.”
In response, Mendi Safadi who serves as director of Deputy Minister Kara’s office, said: “Hamas is a terrorist organization which operates contrary to all international conventions, and I call upon you to declare an economic embargo on Hamas and stop the flow of funds into Gaza, since these funds end up in the hands of Hamas, who uses them to fund the holding of Gilad Shalit and carry out murderous terror attacks against Israeli citizens.”
Safadi added, “In an era where the PA and Hamas are negotiating a joint unity government, I would like to see the PA as solely responsible for the fate of Gilad. It is impossible to see both organizations as an independent political unit. The PA is evading responsibility for the crimes of its citizens.”
Safadi said that pressure must be applied on Hamas so that it allows the International Red Cross (ICRC) to visit Shalit and bring information about his condition.
Shalit, who was kidnapped in 2006, has not been allowed a single visit by the ICRC. Last week, the organization called on Hamas to prove that Shalit is still alive.
“Because no sign of life has been had from Shalit for nearly two years, we demand that Hamas provide proof that he is still alive,” the Red Cross said in a statement which was immediately rejected by Hamas.
Israel’s ambassador to Brussels, Tamar Samash, expressed her agreement with Safadi’s comments, and presented to the Belgian committee members the differences between the detention conditions of prisoners from Hamas and other PA terror organization and the conditions under which Gilad Shalit is being kept.
The discussion was held amid reports earlier this week that Israel had accepted an offer by the German mediator to secure Shalit’s release.
“This proposal was harsh; it was not simple for the State of Israel,” said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “However, we agreed to accept it in the belief that it was balanced between our desire to secure Gilad's release and to prevent possible harm to the lives and security of the Israeli people.”
Netanyahu noted that Israel was still awaiting Hamas’ response to the offer. Deputy Hamas leader Moussa Abu-Marzouk later told the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat that Hamas had rejected the proposal, calling it “discriminatory” and saying it adopted Israel’s “extreme and unfair” positions.