Noam Schalit, father of kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Schalit, spoke out on Friday at a rally held to show empathy for the three kidnapped IDF soldiers held by Hamas and and Hizbullah.
Mr. Schalit, who is standing up bravely under the pressure of his son's kidnapping, is critical "of a system that failed to internalize lessons of the past," "UDI, ELDAD & GILAD ARE NOT FREE MEN" and he makes a valid point; perhaps the system hasn't done enough or has proved inadequate in securing Gilad's release.
One wonders however, whether the lessons of the past are of much use when dealing with Hamas and Hizbullah and their friends. What we have here are ruthless kidnappers representing organisations that show disdain for the norms of human decency. International laws and standards relating to captured prisoners do not apply with Hamas and Hizbullah; there are no visits from the Red Cross and not even a sign as to whether any of the three are alive.
The international community is virtually of no help despite a U.N resolution which called for their release; you won't find articles in your local newspaper about the plight of the captives and their families or even any criticism of the methods of their captors. There are very few voices of support and comfort out there to help guide them home.
Recent negotiations have brought a ray of hope for Gilad's release but these appear to have stalled as a result of internal divisions within Hamas. Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper revealed yesterday that the group holding him "are hard-liners who oppose the Mecca agreement, which formed the basis for the Palestinian national unity government."
Incidentally, to understand the depths of the Hamas pathology one need go no further than the Ha'aretz article quoted above which concludes with the revelation that "the 7-year-old son of a Hamas operative was killed yesterday in the Gaza Strip when a hand grenade went off inside the family home." The frustration continues for all men and women of decency who dream that one day all of the people of the region can live in freedom and in peace.
The Jewish Agency and the Keren Maor Foundation, also known as Amutat Habanim, which represents the families of the abducted soldiers have had prepared a special Seder prayer to be recited tomorrow night for those who celebrate the Jewish Festival of Pessach.
"He who redeems prisoners shall save them from captivity and take them out of slavery to freedom, and from oppression to redemption, and from darkness to light, and He shall heal them fully in soul and body, and grant them strength, happiness and joy, so they shall be strong, healthy and content."
There are other captives in the region who are also suffering at this very time. We should add to our prayers BBC reporter Alan Johnston, missing in Gaza, and the 15 British sailors languishing in Tehran. May they also be freed and brought to safety and back soon to their family and friends.