Haim Avraham, father of kidnapped soldier Benny Avraham z”l, welcomed on Thursday the recommendations of the Shamgar Commission on on ways to deal with freeing abducted, missing and captured IDF troops.
Benny Avraham, along with fellow soldiers Adi Avitan and Omar Sawaid, was kidnapped by Hizbullah terrorists in October of 2000. The terrorists attacked the soldiers as they were patrolling the security fence along Israel’s border with Lebanon. The IDF determined the soldiers were killed either during the attack or immediately afterwards.
On January 29, 2004, the bodies of the three soldiers were returned in exchange for 435 terrorist prisoners. Hizbullah also returned abducted Israeli citizen Elchanan Tenenbaum as part of the deal.
Avraham told Arutz Sheva that he believes the Shamgar Commission’s recommendation that Israel toughen its stance on how many terrorists should be released in exchanged for kidnapped soldiers is correct.
“My son knew that he might pay with his life,” he said. “It is important that Israel set a clear policy on kidnapped soldiers.”
“In recent years a lot of soldiers have been kidnapped here,” Avraham added. “Benny, Adi, Omar, Goldwasser, Regev, and Shalit. We went into a frenzy of negotiations and of paying high prices. Part of the public opposed the heavy prices and a heated debate ensued. It is important that Israel outlines the rules for negotiations and that the other side knows that we are not willing to pay any price.”
He noted that he will always understand the families of captured soldiers who want to see their sons come home at all costs. “Ultimately, the families always want their sons back home. But those who were elected will have to act according to procedure. Of course the government will always have some flexibility but everything would have to be governed according to law.”
Avraham said that he is convinced that all soldiers know that they could pay with their lives when they enter the army.
“Anyone who enlists in the army knows that he might give his life for his country,” he said. “I educated my children to serve their country and know that many things could happen, including being captured and not returning. Benny knew this as well.”
The report also recommends centralizing all the efforts to free soldiers under the authority of the Defense Minister, and to avoid using government-sponsored special negotiators to discuss matters with terrorists. In addition, the report suggests avoiding giving “updates” about the status of negotiations.
Only a portion of the report was released Thursday; most of it is still being studied by defense officials, and a gag order was placed on most of the material due to its sensitivity.