There is a big difference between IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens when it comes to abductions by Hamas, Dr. Eli Carmon, a senior researcher for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, stated Sunday morning – for both Israel and its enemies.
"There may be two separate negotiations – first for the soldiers' bodies [Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul – ed.] and then for the two civilians," Carmon stated in a special interview with Arutz Sheva. "The problem is that we have the bitter experience of all the terrorist releases over the years – and especially the business of Gilad Shalit, when we released over a thousand terrorists, including those with a lot of blood on their hands."
According to Carmon, Hamas has not even attempted psychological warfare in the cases of Avraham Mengistu and another Israeli citizen, because they understand that the value of two civilians is much lower.
"They cannot show the world a military success [for Hamas – ed.], compared to the two soldiers who fell in battle," Carmon explained. "So I think that Hamas distinguishes between the two."
However, he sees signs of pressure on the leadership and the public in Israel to get both civilians home safely.
"I think that Hamas has begun psychological pressure on Israel," he said, explaining that it stems from Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, the parents of Shaul and Goldin, and the public. "We all remember the public pressure for Gilad Shalit's release."
Carmon urged the government not to give in, however.
"Israel must not reach a point where it releases tens and even hundreds of terrorists," he said. "We see with the Shalit deal that a substantial portion of terrorists released returned to terrorism, and some of them were rearrested during Operation Protective Edge because they were setting up facts on the ground [for Hamas]."
"We see Hamas's main condition for starting negotiations is the release of terrorists who were arrested in the operation which began after the kidnapping of three boys," he lamented.
He added that the Mengistu family's pleas to release Avraham due to mental illness will probably go ignored. "I do not see Hamas giving up these two cards in their deck, but the price for him will certainly be much lower; it will be heavier for the soldiers' bodies."
"I think it is time to enact a law that would limit the freedom of action of political leadership to release terrorists," he added, "but also to begin putting pressure on Hamas via its prisoners in Israel."
Carmon opined that reducing the liberal freedoms given to terrorist prisoners, such as family visits and allowing them a measure of communication with the outside world, will pressure Hamas toward relenting.
"I think that Israel is not making enough of an effort to take prisoners as its own bargaining chip in a war that it is very serious for these organizations," he said, "and for some reason I have not seen anything in this direction in terms of operational guidelines."
"This issue has to be a high priority when we have prisoners on the other side."