Maj-Gen Stern: No to Shalit Deal

Former Head of IDF Personnel Branch blasts 'political' decision not to release Shamgar Committee recommendation.

Gil Ronen, | updated: 21:34

Elazar Stern
Elazar Stern
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Maj-Gen (res) Elazar Stern, the former head of IDF Personnel Branch, told Channel 2 television's Meet the Press Saturday that it would be a mistake to release numerous terrorists in exchange for Cpl. Gilad Shalit.

If Israel had not carried out the “Jibril deal” in 1986, in which over 1,000 terrorists were released in exchange for three captive soldiers, Ron Arad could have been freed, and Shalit would already be free today, Stern said.

Asked if he is willing to see Gilad Shalit become “Ron Arad Number Two” – in a reference to the  IAF pilot who was captured by Lebanese terrorists in 1986 and is believed to have died after many years in captivity – Stern did not want to answer positively. He said, however: "I know that Shalit is is still alive and I know that he could remain in captivity for a long time still and I accept this.”

Stern said. “If the other side knew that we do not have all of these demonstrations [for releasing Shalit] and that I am not a lone voice but that there are many who think like me, and that they have no chance to get all that they want – they would behave differently and the price would be lower.”

Stern said that he read in one of the daily newspapers about a terrorist murderer who had been released, then was released, then murdered again and was captured again. “What will happen now – will we release him again?” he asked. “With all due respect to the Shalit family, which is going through sheer hell,” he added, “I ask that each and every one of us look at the hell – not of the bereaved families, but of the bereaved families which we can prevent.”