Hero’s widow cautions Knesset against Shalit-type deal

Israel freed 1,027 hardened murderers, many of whom have killed again for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

By David Issac, JNS

Shlomit Kalmanson, widow of Elchanan Kalmanson, who died rescuing victims from Kibbutz Be’eri on Oct. 7, addressed the Knesset House Committee on Monday as a member of the Heroism Forum, an apolitical group of bereaved families formed in December.

“I came here today as part of the Heroism Forum to call on you to continue fighting. The fighting must continue until Hamas is vanquished. This is how we will safely bring the kidnapped home; out of power, out of strength,” she said.

A new hostage agreement is in the works. Mossad chief David Barnea returned from Paris on Saturday, and for the first time in weeks, reported progress and optimism regarding a possible agreement.

However, Kalmanson expressed concern about repeating the mistakes of past deals. “I am also sitting here on behalf of the murdered people from the Shalit deal,” she said.

Gilad Shalit, an IDF soldier, was captured by Hamas terrorists in 2006 and held for five years before being released in a prisoner exchange in 2011, in which Israel freed 1,027 terrorists for his release.

Many were hardened killers. In 2012, Israeli government data showed that many had returned to terrorist activity. Others went on to senior leadership positions in Hamas, such as Yahya Sinwar, one of the organizers of the Oct. 7 attack now hunted by the IDF.

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“Our uncle Miki Mark was murdered seven-and-a-half years ago by a man freed in the Gilad Shalit deal,” Kalmanson noted.

Mark, 48, a yeshiva director and father of 10, was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2016.

“My husband, Eclhanan, was murdered on the seventh of October by a man freed in the Gilad Shalit deal,” she continued.

Her husband, 42, a man with extensive experience in Israel’s security services and whose exact role is still classified, traveled more than 60 miles from his home in Otniel, near Hebron, on the morning of Oct. 7 with his brother Menachem and nephew Itiel when he learned of what was happening.

The three men went door-to-door rescuing people at Kibbutz Be’eri as the fighting went on around them.

“They experienced every possible scenario—in some houses they saved entire families, in others they tragically discovered that there was no one to save, while in others they saved children who had seen their parents murdered or kidnapped,” according to a report on the Mizrachi World Movement website.

“For 14 hours, Elchanan and his team went door to door, saving over 100 people,” it said.

But when Elchanan entered a dark house, a terrorist opened up with his machine gun. Elchanan and Menachem were hit and Elchanan died in Menachem’s arms.

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Kalmanson concluded, “Elchanan left home out of love for all Jews, out of unity, out of a clear understanding that action must be taken. He was ready to give his life for our dear people and beloved country.”

She added, “You, who sit in the Knesset, you have power. We gave you the power. Use it. Fight so that our children have a strong country, a stable country. A country whose enemies know it has courage.

“I am asking you, members of the Knesset, to do what’s needed. No more rounds [of fighting with Hamas], no more agreements with enemies out of weakness. We are a strong people, a people that knows we have no other country. We trust you to lead the country responsibly.”