Seven years ago today, Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas and a terrorist coalition known as the Popular Resistance Committees. Shalit was held captive in Gaza for five years.
Shalit’s Hamas captors violated international law by refusing visits from the International Red Cross, demonstrating once again the illegitimacy of the regime ruling over the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.
In 2011, as part of the deal to secure Shalit’s freedom, Israel released 1,027 convicted terrorists and Hamas operatives. Among the released were those serving life sentences for perpetrating some of the most severe terror attacks in Israel’s history.
Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations have lauded the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. To this day, senior Hamas officials continue to call for the kidnapping of soldiers and put much effort into achieving this goal.
Two years ago, Hamas terrorist Omar Abu Sanina was released from an Israeli prison and transferred to the Gaza Strip as part of the deal to free Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity. He was serving a life sentence for murder. In April 2012, Abu Sanina sent a memory stick to his family in Judea and Samaria with detailed instructions for how to kidnap an Israeli soldier.
In February 2013, former Chief of the Central Command Maj. Gen. (res.) Avi Mizrahi stated that “Hamas and other Palestinian groups have made 18 attempts in the past four months to kidnap Israeli soldiers to use as bargaining chips for the release of Palestinian security prisoners.”
Earlier this year the IDF, in collaboration with the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet), uncovered extensive Hamas terror infrastructure in Hebron. The infrastructure was part of an attempt by Hamas to establish a regional headquarters in Hebron. Approximately 20 terrorists affiliated with Hamas were arrested and their large cache of illegal weapons was seized. The terrorist network had plans to kidnap an IDF soldier to use as a bargaining chip for the release of more Hamas prisoners.
According to the ISA, 33 kidnapping attempts were foiled between January and April, 2013. This compared with 24 thwarted attempts throughout 2012.
In May 2013, two Hamas operatives were discovered and arrested by IDF forces for founding a terrorist cell that planned to kidnap an Israeli soldier.
Ahmad Abu Fahida, who was recruited into the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades by a Hamas operative in Gaza, was identified by security forces as the head of the terrorist cell. Abu Fahida decided to recruit another Hamas activist, Ahmed Shabrawi, who had previously served jail time for his role in planning a terror attack.
According to the ISA, Abu Fahida was directed by his Hamas handler to kidnap an Israeli soldier, take the soldier’s identification card and cellphone and then kill the soldier and bury the body at a hidden location. Evidently, Hamas is not looking to slow down with its mission to kidnap IDF soldiers and use them as bait for the release of prisoners.
As seen in this video, Hamas leaders are persistent in trying to encourage Palestinians to kidnap Israeli soldiers and citizens, promising the release of 1,000 prisoners for every kidnapped Israeli citizen.
Seven years have passed since the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, but nothing has changed. Hamas’ insidious intentions remain the same: to kidnap Israeli soldiers with the goal of releasing convicted terrorists back into society.
Update: Wednesday, June 26, Hamas releases a new video from the day of Gilad Shalit’s return. An official Hamas spokesman heralded the video’s release by threatening to kidnap more IDF soldiers.