Gaza- Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated on Sunday that Israel will not repeat the “mistake” of freeing Palestinian prisoners in exchange for any Israeli citizen, such as the 2011 Gilad Schalit swap.
After 5 years of being held captive, Israeli soldier Shalit was exchanged for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.
Addressing the resignation of Col. (res.) Lior Lotan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former coordinator on the issue of prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action, Lieberman referred to the 2011 deal which released over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for setting free Schalit, who was held captive by Hamas for five years.
Lotan, who was working without remuneration, resigned on Thursday after three years in the position. He was appointed in 2014, replacing David Meidan who played a key role in formulating the prisoner exchange deal which led to Schalit’s release.
Israel says it lost two soldiers during the last war in the Gaza Strip, but they were killed, and now are bodies held by Hamas.
The Defense Minister stated that Israel “will not repeat the mistake of the Schalit deal, which freed 1,027 terrorists, including murderers and their agents, including Mahmoud Qawasmeh, who was released to the Gaza Strip and financed the abduction of three youths, and Yahya Sanwar, who leads Hamas in the Gaza Strip.”
Qawasme is accused by Israeli forces to having helped fund the June 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank and Sinwar, who was elected as Hamas leader in Gaza in February, is regarded by Israeli security officials as one of the most uncompromising leaders of the movement.
Lieberman criticized that seven Israelis have been murdered by Palestinians released in the deal and 202 have since been rearrested for involvement in terrorism, of whom 111 are still in Israeli prisons.