IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas in 2006
IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas in 2006. Photo by Archive
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's refusal to strike a deal that would secure the release of Gilad Shalit is equivalent to signing the abducted Israeli soldier's death sentence, a missive from the Shalit family said on Thursday.

Writing in an open letter to Netanyahu on Thursday, Zvi Shalit, Gilad's grandfather severely criticized what he considered the premier's inaction in face the IDF soldier's captivity, saying that "a year ago a deal to secure Gilad's release was all but signed but you thwarted it in a last-minute decision."

"Your refusal then and today to comply with the request of former defense officials to free Gilad at the said price is tantamount to Gilad's death sentence," Zvi Shalit said, adding: "My grandson was a healthy young man when he was taken at nineteen. If he dies in Gaza, it will be a long and excruciating death."

"Mr. Netanyhau, can you imagine a situation in which you would refuse a price on your son's life, him being only several dozen kilometers away, and let him die?," Shalit asked.

"If you answered that such a question was politically incorrect I would ask you if it was politically correct to refuse to return my grandson while he is still alive, after we have already paid for dead soldiers with live terrorists."

Shalit also criticized what he considered as Netanyahu's media posturing geared at making it look as if Israel was working to secure Gilad's release, when in fact it was doing nothing.

"Every time there's renewed media attention on the issue of returning my grandson Gilad you invite my son Noam and my daughter in law Aviva to a pointless and doomed meeting," Shalit wrote.

"You sit them in your living room, with your wife present, as if it was a meeting between friends. But in fact, Mr. Netanyahu, you are cynically using my son and daughter in law to present the appearance of action, when in fact nothing is being done to bring back my grandson," he added.

The Prime Minister's Office released a statement in response to Shalit's letter, saying that "actions to release Gilad Shalit are continuous, and are supervised directly by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, actions that have already garnered the first videotape of Gilad."

"It has been over a year since Israel presented its final offer through the German mediator, but Hamas has yet to reply to that offer, which indicates that the other side is not interested in achieving a successful conclusion to negotiations that would bring Gilad back home," the statement said.

The PM's Office statement also said that Israel was "continuously pursuing those responsible for Gilad's capture, and, as we have seen recently, has been able to reach them wherever they hid."

The premier's statement also referred to Zvi Shalit's demands that Israel pay the necessary price to secure Gilad's release, by saying that alongside Netanyahu's "enormous commitment to bringing Gilad back home quickly," the premier was also "responsible for the well-being and security of all of Israel's citizens."

"Past experience teaches us that dozens of Israelis were killed in terror attacks executed by terrorists freed in previous deals, such as the Jibril Agreement and the Tannenbaum agreement," the PM's response said, adding that that was the reason the premier "insists that any future deal would not endanger Israeli citizens and that dangerous terrorists would not be freed to the West Bank, from where they could send out attacks against Israel."