Shimon Or
Shimon OrArutz Sheva

Shimon Or, uncle of Avinatan, who was taken hostage by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, is not surprised by Hamas’ negative response to Israel’s latest negotiation proposal, which was supported by the intermediary countries.

In an interview with Israel National News - Arutz Sheva, Shimon Or claims that all negotiations are futile and will not lead to any results. The purpose of the negotiations, as far as Hamas is concerned, is solely to regain control over Gaza, and that is why the terrorist organization demands an Israeli ceasefire, an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, and the restoration of the Gaza Strip, with international guarantees for that.

The meaning of agreeing to such an outline is a risk for Israel and that is why the Israeli refusal is a necessity. "There is no hope in this negotiation. All it is doing is creating an illusion for the hostages’ families as if something is going to happen. It is preventing the continued entry into Rafah and the continued pressure on Hamas. That is why we have been stalling for several months without moving anywhere."

In such a situation, Or says that he and the Tikva Forum, of which he is a member, demand the total cessation of negotiations, entry into Rafah, closure of the Philadelphi Corridor, and the total annihilation of Hamas. He believes that this is the only way to bring the hostages held by the local clans back home. Only when they realize that Hamas is not going to regain control over them again, they will hand over the hostages into Israel's hands.

"When the Gazans see that on the day after we will be in Gaza, they will understand that they have no reason to keep holding the hostages and they will cooperate with us and we will get the hostages back. If Hamas is in charge, we will never get the hostages back," he says.

Or also says that any deal that is divided into two stages is a death sentence for anyone who is included in the second stage. "As soon as Hamas is in control and holding onto the ground, it will have no reason to return the hostages to Israel and they will all be killed there. No one will be alive. That is why we are pressuring the Cabinet to stop the illusions, enter Rafah, and reach a situation where the hostages will be returned."

Or clarifies that his intention is not for the military operation to return the hostages, but to use the model that proved itself in the first deal when Israel was literally choking Hamas, leading the leaders of the terrorist organization to beg for a deal that was good for Israel. We need to return to this model. When the leaders of Hamas realize that only a deal will keep them alive, they will accept any deal that Israel initiates.

Regarding the feeling that Israel is unable to defeat Hamas, Shimon Or says that the problem is that Israel is not "closing the military circle," as he defines it and explains: "It is impossible to engage in half a battle but still stay on the road. Those who died might be for nothing. We need to close this circle. Coming full circle will make it clear to all Gazans that Israel is going to be the sovereign on the day after. Things are not cut by military operations, but by a clear consciousness that the Gazans have no reason to hold onto the hostages."

"They will not come to this conclusion unless we enter Rafah and close the Philadelphi Corridor. Without these two steps, everything will be futile. When we do this, they will realize that they have no reason to hold onto the hostages and then they will cooperate with us and we will gain the means to find our hostages, both the living and the dead."

Or believes that it could take more than a year to locate the living and dead hostages, as they are scattered all over Gaza. "We will not get them from Hamas unless we are there, and we will be when we complete the military action and contact everyone who is holding a hostage. We are talking about many families and organizations."

Referring to the US opposition to entering Rafah, Or claims that the US opposed Israel's entry into Gaza from the very beginning, and even then they warned and threatened a very high price. "Intimidation on the one hand and reality on the other, we have already shown throughout the military operation that we have the ability to engage in a move that protects IDF soldiers and eradicates Hamas. I don't need to be the IDF consultant," he says and states that a situation where Israel is hanging in the middle is the worst.

Our price vis-à-vis the US will be even worse if we stop in the middle. The US needs us strategically much more than we need them," he states. "We are the ones who stop Iran on the outskirts of Europe and the US. That is why they will continue to support us because they have no other alternative."

Or perceives Israel's conduct in the Gaza Strip as being scrutinized and affecting the international arena. "As long as we aren’t doing anything, the international community prefers not to take offensive action against hostile elements. This is what happened against the Houthis."

"When we take offensive action, they gain courage and are willing to cooperate with us. Those who do not take action on the outskirts of their borders will not be able to take action further out. We must solve this issue within the borders of Israel, that is, Gaza, which is adjacent and neighboring Israel. If we do not make a clear statement about Gaza, we cannot say a word about what is happening further on the outside."