Daily Israel Report

Gilad Shalit Calls on Netanyahu To Free Pollard

Ex-captive soldier tells Netanyahu to demand US free Pollard before they pressure Israel into any more terrorist releases.
By Nir Har-Zahav, Ari Yashar
First Publish: 3/31/2014, 11:32 AM

Gilad Shalit (file)
Gilad Shalit (file)
Flash 90

Gilad Shalit, the IDF soldier who was kidnapped and held by the terrorist group Hamas for five years, wrote to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in a heartfelt request to demand Jonathan Pollard's release in the framework of the peace talks.

"I turn to you in this my third Holiday of Freedom (another name for Passover) as a free man, since you brought my release," wrote Shalit, referencing the upcoming Jewish holiday celebrating the Exodus from slavery in Egypt nearly 2,500 years ago.

In his letter, Shalit compared his imprisonment and Pollard's, who is currently in his 29th year of incarceration on charges of spying for Israel, an American ally.

"In these days I can't help but feel the great pain of Jonathan Pollard, sitting in jail for 29 years - more than five times the amount I was in captivity, and all the while in America, our great friend," noted Shalit.

The former captive continued "in the recent period the state of Israel freed roughly 80 terrorists with blood on their hands as a gesture to (Palestinian Authority Chairman) Mahmoud Abbas at the request of the US. Currently, according to the reports in the news, the US is calling on Israel officially to continue freeing more terrorists as part of the fourth batch."

The fourth and final batch of 26 terrorists was set to occur on Saturday night, but was cancelled - at least temporarily - by Israel amid widespread protest to the highly unpopular move, which Netanyahu acknowledged threatened to topple his government.

"I turn to you now, in the name of that same value of saving a life that stood before your eyes then (when you helped secure my release), and request that you clarify to the Americans that before anything else, Jonathan Pollard must be released," demanded Shalit.

Shalit concluded saying "after so many murderers were freed at the request of the US, it is impossible that they seal off the demands of the entire nation to immediately free Jonathan."

US has no plans to free Pollard

Last Wednesday the White House restated that it has no intentions to free Pollard, after reports suggested the US was offering to release him in order to pressure Israel into going through with the last terrorist release and continuing peace talks.

Meanwhile, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon argued this week that Pollard's release should not be associated with the terrorists' release, saying "the Americans are playing a game with Pollard's fate, and this makes me very angry."

Shalit recently wrote in a letter to Pollard's wife Esther: "As you know, it's hard for me to be exposed to the public. But for Jonathan I'm ready to bear the consequences. I hope that my statement will help as much as possible, and that very soon Jonathan too will return home. I pray for him and for you."

Last December Shalit similarly called for Pollard's immediate release, arguing that America had an obligation to make a "gesture" of its own.