Barak op­poses ‘free Shalit’ march

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - by yAAkov kAtz Jerusalem

De­FenCe MIn­IS­Ter and labour Party leader ehud Barak ex­changed barbs this week with noam Shalit, fa­ther of cap­tured sol­dier gi­lad, af­ter the politi­cian claimed that demon­stra­tions call­ing for the sol­dier’s release were harm­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with ha­mas due to be re­newed in the com­ing week.

labour Party leader Mr Barak said on Sun­day that he loses sleep at night over the is­sue but that the demon­stra­tions could be harm­ful since ha­mas may in­ter­pret them as a sign of weak­ness in Is­rael and in re­sponse in­crease its de­mands for the sol­dier’s release.

ha­mas is cur­rently de­mand­ing the release of 1,400 pris­on­ers, in­clud­ing those di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for the mur­der of Is­raelis, in ex­change for Mr Shalit’s release. egyp­tian-me­di­ated talks are sched­uled to be re­newed in the com­ing week.

“The demon­stra­tions need to be con­sid­ered se­ri­ously, since we do not want to sig­nal to the other side in a way that will cause it to raise the price in­stead of drop­ping it,” Mr Barak said.

Deputy De­fence Min­is­ter Matan Vil­nai told the JC that the demon­stra­tions were not needed to re­mind the gov­ern­ment of the need to re­turn Mr Shalit from ha­mas cap­tiv­ity in the gaza Strip.

“If the gov­ern­ment wasn’t do­ing any­thing and had for­got­ten Shalit, I would say: hold demon­stra­tions. But we haven’t for­got­ten him and we are act­ing all the time,” he said.

In re­sponse, Mr Shalit’s fa­ther noam crit­i­cised Mr Barak and said that the gov­ern­ment was given two years without demon­stra­tions to free his son but had failed. On Sun­day, some 3,000 demon­stra­tors gath­ered at Kerem Shalom — the site of Mr Shalit’s cap­ture — to call for his release.

Around 50 pro­test­ers burned tyres and blocked roads near the cross­ing into gaza, which since the truce be­tween Is­rael and ha­mas went into ef­fect in June has been used to fa­cil­i­tate the trans­fer of es­sen­tial food sup­plies to the gaza Strip. The Shalit fam­ily has been highly crit­i­cal of Is­rael’s ac­cep­tance of the cease­fire, claim­ing that their son’s release should have been in­cluded in the deal.

“Many in this coun­try are ask­ing for gi­lad’s release,” noam Shalit said, adding that the throngs of sup­port­ers and nu­mer­ous car con­voys that trav­elled south to par­tic­i­pate in the demon­stra­tion at Kerem Shalom “proves we are not alone”.

Noam Shalit stands in front of a poster of his son at Sun­day’s protest

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