Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hamas threatens to kill Shalit

Firas Press reports that the spokesman for Hamas' "Al Qassam Brigades," Abu Obeida, said that if Israel doesn't meet Hamas' demands for releasing thousands of prisoners soon, Gilad Shalit's fate will end up the same as Ron Arad's, the IAF officer who apparently died in Lebanon while being held hostage by Hezbollah.

It should be emphasized that since the "calm" began - a deal which Israeli leaders insisted Shalit was part of - Israel has released hundreds of prisoners, both Hamas and Fatah members, including some with blood on their hands. Israel also released high-profile Hamas politicians who were arrested right after Shalit's abduction. In addition, Israel eased up on the Gaza siege commensurate with the reduction of rocket and mortar fire, and is now allowing shipments of fuel, clothing, cement, lumber and other items. A crossing that Israel had closed after a fatal terror attack has been re-opened.

Although Hamas claims many violations of the "calm" by Israel almost none of those reports (of shooting at fishing boats, of occasional excursions into Gaza by armored vehicles) have been confirmed by any legitimate source.

While this threat is probably just a tactic, it should be responded to by a suspension of some of Israel's "goodwill gestures" - perhaps the re-arrest of Hamas "lawmakers." A gesture is meaningless if the other side treats it as worthless, so maybe it is time for Israel to indicate that the flip-side of goodwill gestures is a return to how things were.