Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser
June 25th, 2011, was the fifth anniversary of Gilad Shalit’s Abduction. He is being held by a brutal enemy, Hamas, which refuses to uphold either the minimal demands of the international treaties or humanitarian conditions. It has refused to allow him even one visit by the International Committee of the Red Cross. It is holding him in harsh conditions and we know how his family is suffering. I think that the entire nation and all fair and just people in the world are incensed at what Hamas is doing.
We have applied heavy international pressure, which has found expression in remarks by the leaders of countries such as the US and in Europe, and in yesterday’s statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, all of whom are demanding Gilad’s immediate release and a visit by the ICRC beforehand. We have also decided to change the conditions of [Hamas] prisoners; that party is over.
We are involved in many actions, and I do not think that this is the place to go into details, all of which are in order to bring Gilad Shalit back home, safe and sound. The State of Israel is ready to go far, more than any other country, in order to secure Gilad’s release but it is my responsibility, and the responsibility of those who are sitting here, to see to the security and lives of the Israeli people.
We received a proposal from the German mediator. This proposal was harsh; it was not simple for the State of Israel. However, we agreed to accept it in the belief that it was balanced between our desire to secure Gilad’s release and to prevent possible harm to the lives and security of the Israeli people. As of now, we have yet to receive Hamas’s official answer to the German mediator’s proposal.
Last week, at the closing ceremony of the Israeli Presidential Conference, Prime Minister Netanyahu said:
Today, Hamas announced that it is standing by its refusal and has rejected the request of the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit Gilad Shalit. And so I have an announcement as well: I have decided to change Israel’s policy regarding the terrorists in Israeli prisons. While we are obligated to respect Israeli law, international law and international treaties, we are not required to go beyond them. Therefore, the extraordinary and exaggerated conditions for terrorists inside Israeli prisons – these conditions will end!
We are taking a series of steps to change the prison conditions. While I will not detail them here, I would like to give one example: I have stopped the absurd procedure whereby terrorists in Israeli prisons for murdering innocents can sign up for academic studies. There will be no more master’s degrees in murder or doctors of terrorism. This party is over.
I would like to commend the leaders of the US, France, the UK and Italy for demanding in recent days that Hamas release Gilad Shalit. They have done so before but they also issued an immediate demand that the ICRC be allowed to visit him.
I believe that if all of us, both in Israel and abroad, unite and continue to put moral, diplomatic and public pressure on Hamas, on a daily basis, we will advance Gilad Shalit’s release until he returns home safe and sound.