It appears that the logjam Hamas created in its capture of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit back in August 2006, may be breaking up.
Corporal Shalit was wounded in the encounter initiated by Hamas in Israeli territory. Two other IDF soldiers were killed when Shalit was taken hostage, as were two Palestinians.
Since then there have been attempted interventions by just about everyone: the American Secretary of State, the French (Shalit holds French and Israeli citizenship), the Papal Nuncio to Israel, and Egypt. [There has been no word from the UN, but it is public knowledge that Turtle Bay holds the state of Israel in special contempt.]
In the interim since his capture Corporal Shalit has had two birthdays; he is now twenty-one. According to his captors, he is alive, well, and available for hostage negotiations:
On 25 June, 2007, the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem issued a statement that “International humanitarian law absolutely prohibits taking and holding a person by force in order to compel the enemy to meet certain demands” and thus is considered by them a war crime. A war crime determination would need to be made by an affirmative decision of the United Nations Security Council, or a judicial tribunal appointed by it. Israel has not requested that the Security Council consider if a war crime is involved.
Asking the Security Council to make such a ruling would be like spitting into the wind. Why bother? In fact, had the UN existed at the time of Hitler’s attempt at a Final Solution, there would be no Jews left by now. And it may be the case that they will finally be annihilated during the 21st century, the beginning of the third millennium of what was once designated “the year of Our Lord.”
War crime or not, Hamas has some “requests”:
– – – – – – – – –
It wants the Palestinian women and any person under the age of 18 currently held by Israel to be released. It also has a list of high-ranking Palestinians to be let go also. This gives you some idea of the value of persons: one soldier for 1,300 Palestinians. That is a twisted moral calculus in the best of circumstances. Hamas is blind to such accountings, however.
What started me on this post was a tip from Insubria…a short news clip I found in our email that recalled again the situation of Corporal Shalit. Normally, I avoid pondering these seemingly endless and fruitless rounds of publicity-seeking by Hamas. Their stories and claims are like twisted, sadistic fairy tales.
Here is the clip:
The capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas in June 2006 “costed the Palestinian people too much”, the Jordanian media quoted Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) as saying today. According to Abbas, “this Israeli soldier has cost the Palestinian people more than 1,000 martyrs and this number will increase as the launch of (Hamas) rockets against Israel continue”. Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit was captured by Palestinian militants on June 25, 2006 near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Since last February 27, a total of 135 Palestinians, including many civilians, have been killed in Israeli military operations in the Strip, which is under Hamas control since June 2007.
Abbas has his own reasons for criticizing Hamas, which all of you know too well for me to bother enumerating. What I want to point out is the possibility of a learning moment for Mahmoud Abbas: [t]he capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas in June 2006 “costed the Palestinian people too much.”
Well, duh. So have many of Hamas’ actions “costed too much.” Except Hamas finds the Palestinians expendable. So a few thousand die here and there. Indifference to your own collateral damage, thy name is Hamas.
The Media Line gives one version of many stories in the Middle East about the current state of affairs:
Hamas, the de facto ruler of Gaza, has agreed on a cease-fire with Israel proposed by Egypt, sources close to the Islamic group confirmed.
According to the deal, Hamas agreed to stop firing rockets from the territory in return for Israeli cessation of air raids and refraining from targeting the group’s top leaders in Gaza.
“There are intensive talks and contacts being carried out by the Egyptian brothers to reach a cease-fire deal,” Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas’ spokesman in Gaza told The Media Line.
He said that Hamas backed all efforts to stop the Israeli aggression and end the siege on Gaza, “and this is always our position,” he added.
Fearing further escalation in Gaza, Egypt is trying to mediate a comprehensive truce in which Gaza factions stop firing rockets, Israeli forces stop air strikes and ground operations and Gaza’s crossings with Israel and Egypt are reopened to commercial and pedestrian traffic.
The initiative, encouraged by the United States, also includes concluding the prisoner swap deal, whereby Israel will free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in return for its captive soldier Gilad Shalit.
However, Egypt’s main concern at this stage, the source said, is the ceasefire with Israel.
According to the source, Hamas stipulated that Egypt guarantees protection for Hamas’ leaders before ceasefire. They also preferred that the cease-fire be under international supervision.
The source also revealed that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice exerted pressure on Israel to practice self-restraint while Egypt exerted pressure on Hamas for the same purpose. The source also stated that Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian factions did not oppose the proposed ceasefire.
According to the sources, Hamas also accepted reopening Rafah terminal, the only Gaza gateway to the outside world, according to the 2005 agreement among Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt.
In other developments, P.A. Chairman Mahmoud ‘Abbas revealed last night that Israel was close to reaching an informal cease-fire with Hamas.
“I think the Israelis have agreed upon this, that this is the deal which we may hear about in the next few days,” Abbas said in Jordan, where he was meeting with King Abdullah.
Meanwhile, Israeli officials have publicly denied any formal deal or even talks with Hamas.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said: “There is no agreement. There are no negotiations, not directly and not indirectly.”
“We don’t know if Egypt reached any agreement with Hamas. In any case, it hasn’t received a mandate from us to do so.”
Whatever. If the negotiations end with the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit, there will be one rejoicing family at his hospital bed.
Meanwhile we will wait to see how many Palestinians released equal the freedom of one IDF soldier. It is an immoral calculation, but that is how Hamas plays their depraved games.