Israeli peace activist: Hamas leader Jabari killed amid talks on long-term truce
Gershon Baskin, who helped mediate between
Israel and Hamas in the deal to release Gilad Shalit, says Israel made a
mistake that will cost the lives of 'innocent people on both sides.'
Hours before Hamas strongman Ahmed Jabari was assassinated, he received
the draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel, which included
mechanisms for maintaining the cease-fire in the case of a flare-up
between Israel and the factions in the Gaza Strip. This, according to
Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who helped mediate between Israel
and Hamas in the deal to release Gilad Shalit and has since then
maintained a relationship with Hamas leaders.
Baskin told Haaretz on Thursday that senior officials in Israel knew
about his contacts with Hamas and Egyptian intelligence aimed at
formulating the permanent truce, but nevertheless approved the
“I think that they have made a strategic mistake," Baskin said, an
error "which will cost the lives of quite a number of innocent people on
"This blood could have been spared. Those who made the decision must be
judged by the voters, but to my regret they will get more votes because
of this,” he added.
Baskin made Jabari’s acquaintance when he served as a mediator between
David Meidin, Israel’s representative to the Shalit negotiations, and
Jabari. “Jabari was the all-powerful man in charge. He always received
the messages via a third party, Razi Hamad of Hamas, who called him
For months, Baskin sent daily messages in advance of the formulation of
the deal. He kept the channel of communication with Gaza open even
after the Shalit deal was completed.
According to Baskin, during the past two years Jabari internalized the
realization that the rounds of hostilities with Israel were beneficial
neither to Hamas nor to the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip and only
caused suffering, and several times he acted to prevent firing by Hamas
He said that even when Hamas was pulled into participating in the
launching of rockets, its rockets would always land in open spaces. “And
that was intentional,” clarified Baskin.
In recent months Baskin was continuously in touch with Hamas officials
and with Egyptian intelligence as well as with officials in Israel,
whose names he refused to divulge. A few months ago Baskin showed
Defense Minister Ehud Barak a draft of the agreement and on the basis of
that draft an inter-ministry committee on the issue was established.
The agreement was to have constituted a basis for a permanent truce
between Israel and Hamas, which would prevent the repeated rounds of
“In Israel,” Baskin said, “they decided not to decide, and in recent
months I took the initiative to push it again.” In recent weeks he
renewed contact with Hamas and with Egypt and just this week he was in
Egypt and met with top people in the intelligence system and with a
Hamas representative. He says he formed the impression that the pressure
the Egyptians applied to the Palestinians to stop shooting was serious
“He was in line to die, not an angel and not a righteous man of peace,”
Baskin said of Jabari and of his feelings in the wake of the killing,
“but his assassination also killed the possibility of achieving a truce
and also the Egyptian mediators’ ability to function. After the
assassination I spoke to the people in Israel angrily and they said to
me: We’ve heard you and we are calling to ask if you have heard anything
form the Egyptians or from Gaza.”
Since the assassination, Baskin has been in touch with the Egyptians
but not with the Palestinians. According to him, the Egyptians are very
cool-headed. They said it is necessary to let the fresh blood calm down.
"The Egyptian intelligence people are doing what they are doing with
the permission and authorization of the regime and apparently they very
much believe in this work,” he says.
“I am mainly sad. This is sad for me. I am seeing people getting killed
and that is what is making me sad. I tell myself that with every person
who is killed we are engendering the next generation of haters and
terrorists,” adds Baskin.
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