For five years, Israel has practically begged Hamas to accept hundreds of terrorists in exchange for the return of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Hamas has consistently refused to make a deal, and has just as consistently refused to budge even one inch from its opening position, demanding the release of some 1,400 terrorists in exchange for Shalit.
It's time for a new approach, says Ron Kehrmann, father of Tal Kehrmann, who was killed in 2003 when terrorists bombed a bus she was riding on in Haifa. And as one who has lost a child to terrorism, Kehrmann has paid his dues .
“It's time to tell Hamas that previous offers are off the table. Gilad is one individual soldier, and in exchange they can have one terrorist,” says Kehrmann. “And as hard as it is for me to say, I would be willing to trade the murderer of my daughter for Gilad.”
Kehrmann made his views known in an op-ed piece he wrote on the Hebrew Yediot Achronot website over the weekend, in which he sharply criticized the ongoing criticism and pressure on the government to release masses of terrorists for Shalit.
“Noam Shalit declared last week that 'the Prime Minister does not have a mandate to murder Gilad,' but if I recall, he does have a mandate to protect the citizens of Israel,” Kehrmann wrote. “Is it not clear that submitting to terrorist demands will cost us many lives, as doing so in the past has?”
Speaking to Arutz 7, Kehrmann said that “when it comes to Gilad Shalit, we have two options – the logical or the emotional response. And in the past, following the emotional response has cost Israel many lives.”
The article was among the most popular Yediot ever put on its website, garnering over 1,200 talkback responses to the article - “97% of them agreeing with my point of view,” says Kehrmann.
“It's surprising in a way, because we hear so much about the 'public concern' over Gilad Shalit – and we are concerned. But this article shows what happens when you allow the people a free voice,” which Israelis definitely do not have right now. The media has been swamped with propaganda about freeing Shalit, but the people are not fooled. They realize what is being asked of them – to put their lives and their family's lives in ever greater danger, as hundreds of terrorists go back to their former profession.”
The one prisoner in exchange for Shalit plan is a viable alternative to the current situation “where Hamas is basically in control of the situation. Two governments have been involved in negotiating for Shalit, and they have both conducted negotiations in the same way: always compromising with their demands. If we tell Hamas that they get one prisoner, they will be the ones under pressure, and then we will have broken what has clearly been a failed negotiating policy,” says Kehrmann. “Hamas is too comfortable; it is time to put their feet to the fire a bit.”
Of course, it's possible that Hamas will respond differently – perhaps by conducting a public execution of Gilad. But Kehrmann doesn't think so. “They've kept him alive for five years for their own interests, and Israel's changing its negotiating tactics will not change those interests,” he says.
What about military action as an alternative to freeing Gilad. “Absolutely necessary, and in fact it was a big mistake not to make sure to release him during Operation Cast Lead. We in Israel are leading the world war against terror, and we cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated by terrorists.
"If Israel does not stand up to terrorism – and if Israel adopts the defeatism of the Shalit family and releases over 1,000 terrorists for one soldier - “then we are endangering the lives of every man, woman and child in Israel,” Kehermann says.
“I was always one of those who said 'it won't happen to me,' until it did,” he says. “Now I wonder if Tal would still be alive if I had been more vocal before about not submitting to terrorism. Now all I have left of her is the website where I keep her memory alive.” That site is www.tal-smile.com.