Israel, Shalit’s negotiator to Hamas leader: “The limit has been exceeded, it is impossible to negotiate”

Last letter from Israeli activist Gershon Baskin to Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad

Hamas has ”crossed the line between humanity and barbarism”. So even Gershon Baskin, the Israeli-American peace activist who in 2011 managed to make use of his personal contacts with Hamas to bring home the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, said enough is enough. He explains to Adnkronos that he wrote for the “last time” to Ghazi Hamad, member of the Hamas Political Council, who after the assault on 7 October had contacted hoping to be able to obtain the release of some of the over two hundred hostages taken to the Gaza Strip, giving priority to ”women, children, the elderly and the sick”. And trying to get what Hamas had asked for, a temporary ceasefire for the release of civilians. But Baskin now believes that Hamad, who he has known for 18 years, met in person at least four times and is wanted by Israel, ”has lost his mind and his moral code. He crossed the line between humanity and barbarism”. And to think, Baskin recalls, that after Shalit’s liberation the Hamas leader told him: ”Next time we will negotiate peace”.

But now, he says, Hamad “has changed, he has become bad”. Baskin says ”I trusted him and thought that together we could build a better future for our people”. But the limit, according to the Israeli-American negotiator, was reached during the interview that the Hamas leader gave from Beirut, where he lives, to the Lebanese television Lbci.

”I never imagined that you would justify the killing of innocent civilians – Baskin wrote to him – My God, newborns, entire families burned alive, elderly people, children killed in front of their parents. These are not the actions of human beings. I always thought you were a man with principles of humanity. How can you justify the things your people have done? How can you ask for a million on October 7?”.

Baskin, who opened a secret channel with Hamas and initiated unofficial negotiations from 2006 to 2011, recalls having ”defined Israel’s bombing of innocent civilians in Gaza as a war crime”. And to Hamad he says that ”I care about your people more than you ever cared about them”. The negotiator also disputes the Hamas leadership for having ”built tunnels and bunkers for your own people, not a single shelter for the people of Gaza. You fled Gaza and abandoned your people. I’m sure you took your privileged family with you when you ran away just like your cowardly leaders in Qatar, on the red carpets and in the 5-star hotels and millions of dollars that they and maybe even you stole from the Palestinian people”.

Baskin is said ”surprised and disappointed” by the Hamas leader. ”We have known each other for 18 years. We’ve talked about it more than a thousand times. We met face to face I think four times. You earned my respect when you showed that you really cared about Gilad Shalit and that you wanted him to return to his family, not just to obtain the release of the prisoners”. But now ”you and your friends have set the Palestinian cause back 75 years. You and your friends are directly responsible for the tragedy that is happening to your people. You and your friends will pay the price, but first of all millions of Palestinians are paying the price for your hatred, your fanatical ideology and your lack of humanity. I never want to talk to you again. You don’t deserve to talk to someone like me,” the letter concludes.