Chaim Goldberg/Flash90
Yoav Gallant

“The stories published by Hamas are part of their psychological games,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said.

By Batya Jerenberg

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told representatives of Hamas’ hundreds of hostages and those still listed as missing Sunday that an offer the terrorist group made to swap all hostages for all Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel is “inapplicable” and a cruel mind game.

“The stories published by Hamas are part of their psychological games,” he said. “Hamas is cynically using those who are dear to us, they understand the pain and the pressure” that the hostages’ families are feeling, and seek to exploit it.

The hostages’ families are divided over the idea of an “all for all” deal. Some believe that it would only encourage more terrorism and kidnappings. Others who spoke, in a recording revealed in a Channel 12 report, said they supported this kind of deal.

“Hamas kidnapped civilians precisely for this deal,” said one representative, “otherwise they would have murdered them all. You don’t need to be the Minister of Defense to understand that in relation to the Shalit deal [where one soldier was exchanged for 1,027 Palestinian terrorists], this is a good deal.

“I demand that you accept this deal when it comes even if it’s not on our terms,” she continued. “You’ve caused us so much damage that you can never make up for but the least you can do is save everyone who can be saved, at any cost! All for all and now. Because we have no time to waste.”

Gallant disagreed, saying that “If someone thinks that what interests Hamas is to make a deal and give them and they will give, unfortunately that is not true; if it was that simple then it would not be a problem….it would happen tomorrow morning. But these are not the conditions.”

He also rejected the claim made by some in the group that the current IDF ground incursion into Gaza is endangering their loved ones and should be stopped. “Only military pressure,” he said, would influence Hamas to release its captives, whose latest number rose to 240 on Tuesday, according to the IDF.

The minister restated the importance the government is placing on returning those kidnapped, who include infants as well as the elderly, saying that this was a goal equal to winning the war.

On Monday night, IDF troops rescued a female soldier, Pvt. Ori Megidish, who had been kidnapped from the Nahal Oz base on the Gazan border where she was serving as a spotter.