Egyptian mediators have been working for weeks in order to secure a cease fire in the Gaza area, and thought an agreement had finally been obtained. However, just as the agreement was about to be signed, the Israel government announced it would not sign unless Gilad Shalit, an Israel soldier captured by Hamas, was released. Hamas reacted with anger to the last minute demand by Israel. It accused the Israeli government of trying to torpedo chances for a truce and its request was, in effect, tantamount to a “knife in Egypt’s back.” Hamas also made clear the issue of the soldier’s release is not part of the cease fire process. A spokesman said: “There is no link between the two issues. Israel is being hard headed and is piling up hindrances and erecting obstacles in the path of Egyptian efforts.”
Human life is precious and no one wants to abandon a human who is held captive, but the release of Gilad can be the focus of separate discussions. Most probably, Hamas will insist on release of X number of its prisoners held in Israel jails. It would make sense to secure a cease fire and establish some basis of trust before engaging in discussions about Gilad. It is not a question of abandoning him, but right now the main issue is ending hostilities in the Gaza area, opening border crossings and moving toward further negotiations.
One can only wonder about the mentality of Israel leaders who in the past few months have made the name of their country synonymous with brutality even though Israel does have valid arguments concerning obtaining a peace agreement. Palestinians have been blessed with incompetent leaders and Israel has been blessed with ignorant fools who are unable to keep focused on how to secure peace in the area.