Noam Shalit: We kidnapped soldiers too

Gilad Shalit hugs his father Noam

Gilad Shalit hugs his father Noam

The father of the IDF soldier captured by Hamas and released five years later last October has given a controversial interview expressing a level of understanding of the terrorist groups' actions.

Noam Shalit, whose son Gilad was just 19 years old when he was kidnapped during a cross border raid, revealed his ambitions to become a Labour Party Knesset member in January.

His political leanings were made clear with comments this week, in which he told Israel's Channel 10 that he was not averse to speaking to Hamas.

"I am in favour of speaking to anyone who wants to talk to us," he said. "If they change their ways and are willing to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, yes, I would shake their hand."

Mr Shalit also noted that Jewish paramilitary groups in Mandate Palestine "also kidnapped British soldiers when we were fighting for our freedom".

But the soldier's father, who spent months camped in front of Benjamin Netanyahu's house to campaign for action on his son's case, said that the Prime Minister should have imposed financial sanctions on Gaza.

He said: ''As soon as they capture an Israeli soldier and are not willing to release him and asking for such a price, you should put the pressure on them, including stopping the transfer of money."

He had little praise for Mr Netanyahu's role in Gilad's homecoming. "Every poll found that 70 per cent of the public wanted the deal," he said. "Netanyahu saw the public would not tolerate a repeat of what happened to Ron Arad."

Later this month, Gilad Shalit will be released from compulsory IDF service.

Last updated: 3:29pm, March 16 2012