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Former hostage negotiator on breaking contact with Hamas

Here & Now host Robin Young speaks with former hostage negotiator Gershon Baskin, about why he is breaking with his primary Hamas contact after the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, and what deal he thinks Israel should offer Hamas to win the release of more than 230 hostages being held in Gaza since the attacks.

Hostage negotiator Gershon Baskin’s letter to Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad

Ghazi Hamad,

Ibelieve that this will be the last time I ever communicate with you. I don’t think you have the courage to answer me and I do not expect an answer.  But these are my words to you and I hope that they sink deep into your mind.

I think you have lost your mind and you have lost your moral code.  You have crossed the line between humanity and inhumanity. I have never justified the killing of innocent people. I never imagined that you would justify the killing of innocent civilians — my God — babies, whole families burned alive, old people, children killed in front of their children.  These are not the actions of human beings.

I always thought you were a man with principle of humanity.  How can you justify the things that your people did?  How can you call for 1 million October 7?  I have called Israel’s bombing of innocent civilians in Gaza a war crime.  I care more about your people than you have ever cared for them.  Every time someone in Gaza would come to me to ask for help, I would tell them to talk to you.  But you know what they said?  They only care about their own people — that’s what so many people in Gaza said to me about you and your people.  You built tunnels and bunkers for your own people — not 1 single shelter for the people of Gaza.  You ran away from Gaza and deserted your people.  I am sure you took your privileged family with you when you ran away just like your sick f**** coward leaders in Qatar on red carpets and 5 star hotels and millions of dollars that they and maybe you too stole from the Palestinian people.

Honestly Ghazi, you surprised me and disappointed me.  We have known each other for 18 years. We have spoken more than 1000 times. We have met face to face I think 4 times. You earned my respect when you showed that you actually cared for Gilad Shalit and wanted him to be returned to his family — not just to get prisoners released. There was some humanity in you. And on the day of his release you even said “next time we will negotiate peace!”.  That is what you said.  But you have changed and you are evil. Maybe you are under the wings of Salah Arouri, maybe under the influence of someone else.

I am sorry to say that you were someone who I actually trusted and thought that we together could help to bring a better future for our peoples. But you and your friends have brought the Palestinian cause back 75 years. You and your friends are directly responsible for the tragedy that is happening to your people.  You and your friends will pay the price, but first millions of Palestinians are paying the price of your hate, your fanatic ideology and your lack of humanity. I never want to speak to you again. You don’t deserve to speak to someone like me.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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