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October 16, 2011- Israel's Grapples With Shalit Deal - History

October 16, 2011- Israel's Grapples With Shalit Deal - History



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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

October 16, 2011- Israel's Grapples With Shalit Deal

The news in Israel over the weekend has been totally dominated by the imminent prisoner swap that will bring Gilad Shalit home in exchange for over 1,000 terrorists. The country is clearly divided by the action, but a clear majority at this point favor the deal, however much it stinks.

The question of why Israel agreed to the deal now has been debated in the press and on TV, with commentators divided on whether to accept the government's position-- that with the situation so fluid in the Middle East at the moment it felt that this was the last chance to secure the release of Shalit. Others believe it was Prime Minister Netanyahu’s need to bolster his popularity that drove him to make the deal now. Whether or not that was his goal, it is clear the deal will certainly enhance Netanyahu’s popularity, at least in the short run.

It is also clear that the big winner in the deal is Hamas. Ironically, over the weekend I was reading a Time Magazine article written before the deal was announced which talked about the unpopularity of Hamas in Gaza, and furthermore, that if elections were held today they would clearly lose power. That has all changed-- at least in the short term. Hamas is strengthened and Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are weakened. Some cynical critics of the Netanyahu government believe that this is the goal of the government-- to prove there is no one to talk to, thus no pressure to make concessions.

While the Shalit deal has been getting all the attention in Israel, the continued implications of the Iranian plot to attempt to kill the Saudi Amabassador continue to reverberate in the rest of the Middle East. While all sorts of conspiracy theories have developed claiming that the assassination attempt is all a hoax perpetrated by the US or Israel, it cleary is not, and at least for the moment, seems to have underscored to the United States and the Gulf States how dangerous and seemingly irrational Iran can be.


Gilad Shalit deal opposed by families of Palestinian prisoners' victims

Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has told the families of Israelis killed by some of the 1,027 Palestinian prisoners due to be swapped for the captured soldier Gilad Shalit that he "shares their pain in seeing their loved ones' murderers freed" but had little choice.

Netanyahu justified the deal with Hamas in a letter delivered shortly before the relatives of victims of suicide bombings and other attacks asked the high court in Jerusalem to block the exchange. Shalit, 25, has been held incommunicado in Gaza for more than five years.

Netanyahu said he knew "the price was very heavy" for relatives of the victims. He added that the decision was among the most difficult he had ever made, because he lost a brother in the conflict with the Palestinians.

But he said he "was faced with the responsibility of the prime minister of Israel to bring home every soldier who is sent to protect our citizens".

Critics say the agreement with Hamas is not only a concession to terrorists but will encourage the Palestinians to abduct more soldiers. Some say it is little different from a deal opposed by Netanyahu two years ago before he became prime minister.

Palestinians being freed include the founders of Hamas's armed wing and the organisers of suicide bombings and other attacks in which scores of Israeli civilians, including children and teenagers, were killed. They include the bombings of a Jerusalem pizza restaurant frequented by families, a Tel Aviv nightclub popular with young Russian immigrants and a Netanya hotel.

There were angry scenes inside and outside the high court where the proceedings were repeatedly interrupted by family members yelling objections to the deal with Hamas.

Shvuel Schijveschuurder, who lost his parents and three siblings in a suicide bomb at a Jerusalem pizza restaurant 10 years ago, shouted at Shalit's father, Noam, telling him to hang a black flag on his home because "this is a day of mourning".

Schijveschuurder was arrested last week after vandalising the memorial to the assassinated Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, who reached the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians. He painted "release Yigal Amir" – the name of the Jewish extremist who murdered Rabin – on the memorial.

Yossi Zur asked the high court to block the release of the Palestinians who killed his son and 16 other people in a suicide attack on a bus in Haifa in 2003 because it would only encourage further attacks..

"From our experience with past deals, and sadly we have a lot of experience, we know how many Israelis will be killed as a result of the release of these terrorists. I am here to protect my children who are still alive," he told Israeli television.

Shalit's father said they sympathised with the victims' pain, but asked the court not to interfere in the agreement. "Not implementing the deal will not return the murdered loved ones while, on the other hand, it would sentence Gilad to death."

The president of the high court, Dorit Beinisch, said she recognised the government's agreement with Hamas meant the negation of legal decisions to jail the Palestinian prisoners. "The moral and legal difficulty is laid out before us … we are sitting among our own people. There is no need to explain the painful history and the very difficult dilemmas we face."

The government told the court that the exchange is a political matter which it is authorised to carry out, as recognised by the failure of legal challenges in similar cases before.

"The court has refused, time after time, to interfere with the release of prisoners as part of a deal reached through political negotiations," the government told the court.

A ruling was expected on Monday evening. If the court does not block it, the handover will take place in stages. Israel will first release 27 Palestinian women prisoners. Shalit, a corporal who was promoted to sergeant major while in captivity, will then be moved from Gaza in to southern Israel, possibly directly through one of the crossings between the two territories or briefly via Egypt. Israel will then release 450 male prisoners to Gaza and the West Bank, aside from a small number destined for exile in Turkey and other countries in the region.

The remainder of the 1,027 Palestinians are to be freed in the coming weeks.

Netanyahu, his defence minister, Ehud Barak, and senior military officers will greet Shalit at an air force base in the south of the country. He will undergo a medical examination and then be flown to his parents' home in Mitzpe Hila, near Israel's border with Lebanon.

Shalit was captured by Palestinians who tunnelled from Gaza into Israel and killed two other members of his tank crew before snatching him.

This article was amended on 18 October 2011. The original referred to Dorit Beinisch as "he". This has been corrected.


The Dangerous Precedents of the Shalit Deal

Something has gone awry in the prioritization of values of Israeli society, where imprisonment, in spite its bitterness, is consider a fate more bitter than death, even though only death is irreversible

At the end of the Yom Kippur War and the completion of the prisoner exchange between Israel and Egypt, it emerged that the deal did not include Baruch Mizrahi, a Mossad man caught during an espionage mission in Yemen, from which he was taken to Egypt. In exchange for Mizrahi, Golda Meir proposed to Anwar Saddat "some Egyptians held by Israel," on the basis of a list that Egypt would deliver. The offer also included the transfer of supplies for the Egyptian forces cut off in two places in the Gulf of Suez. It was quickly made sure that no Egyptian spies were being held by Israel. In the absence of something equal to Mizrahi's worth to exchange, then-Mossad head Zvi Zamir recently wrote in his book that it was proposed that "terrorists from Gaza" be released. This was carried out.

The Mizrahi deal stemmed from the disengagement of forces and the overall thawing in Israel-Egypt relations. However, this had not been the first decision by the government of Israel to release saboteurs in exchange for hostages - the precedent was the EL AL flight hijacked to Algiers in the summer of 1968. Just by chance, there were no military personnel on that flight. Major General Ariel Sharon and Colonel Avraham Tamir, who were supposed to be on the flight, had had such a good time at a nightclub in Paris that they delayed their return to Israel by a day and were not on that fateful flight.

These precedents cannot serve to justify the Shalit deal. Following the hijacking to Algiers, Yitzhak Rabin established the rule of the military option, which does not discount a rescue operation if most of the hostages are at risk of harm - at the cost of some of the hostages or rescuers being injured. This was not only the case in Entebbe but also in the case of the number 300 bus. Nor is there a similarity between a broader security agreement with Hamas, which would include a cessation of firing and increasing their arsenal, as was proposed by GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant following Shalit's abduction - and a limited exchange of prisoners. As for the breaking of the taboo on including Israeli Arabs in the exchanges, this suggests that Azmi Bishara can only be sad by not staying to face trial, which would now see him freed.

Ehud Barak abandoned his goal to achieve deterrence, which was at the root of an operation he planned in 1992 (and was foiled by the Tze'elim B disaster ) for the assassination of Saddam Hussein, in order to hold him accountable for the missiles he fired against Israel without an immediate response.

Benjamin Netanyahu, who invented the line of reciprocity - if they give, they will receive - dropped lower to "they will take - they will receive." If members of Hamas or other organizations take Israeli prisoners, Netanyahu promises to give them thousands of prisoners in return.

Following the current deal, there will remain in prison some 6,000-8,000 prisoners. It is enough for a showcase operation - taking over a group of Israelis in an observation position, a community, a delegation, a group of tourists abroad (including in Sinai ) - ) in order to trade them for the entire complement of prisoners. An Israeli hostage will become a trading currency for a trader, especially those of the Persian bazaar, especially the head of the Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani, who may use it as a human shield at the nuclear sites of Iran.

Something has gone awry in the prioritization of values of Israeli society, where imprisonment, in spite its bitterness, is consider a fate more bitter than death, even though only death is irreversible. Because only the certain tougher stance in the policy toward kidnappers and their victims, a sort of national Hannibal protocol, may cause the executors of "trading" attacks to kill instead of kidnap.

The big difficulty in the imprisonment of Shalit was the war crime of preventing the Red Cross from meeting him. This did not deter Netanyahu, nor Ehud Olmert, from holding "proximity talks" with the leader of the war criminals, Ahmed Jabari. Professionally and ethically, there should also have been a differentiation between Netanyahu's emissary and closing the deal, and the person charged with assessing the risks of the deal before the ministers and the public. One person, the head of the Shin Bet security service, cannot fill both roles.

The politicians are concerned about themselves. If they only cared about the well-being of Gilad Shalit, they would curtail their hunger for the photographed assault on him - near the air force base upon his arrival. If the professionals currently on the job - the chief medical officer, Lt. Colonel Dr. Ophir Levy, commander of the unit for Combat Stress, and Lt. Colonel Dr. Eyal Fruchter, head of the IDF's mental health unit - cannot tell them to hold off, then their predecessors should.

A banner celebrating the deal for the release of Gilad Shalit Ilan Assayag


Palestinian Public Opinion Polls: Views on the Shalit Prisoner Exchange

Are you content with the exchange of prisoners agreement that was reached between Israel and Hamas which will lead to the release of Gilad Shalit in return for releasing 1027 Palestinian prisoners some of whom are sentenced to long term imprisonment? (Al-Najah poll, October 17, 2011)

Do you think that the exchange of prisoners agreement that was reached between Israel and Hamas will increase the popularity of Hamas among Palestinians? (Al-Najah poll, October 17, 2011)

Do you think that the exchange of prisoners agreement that was reached between Israel and Hamas will speed the reconciliation process? (Al-Najah poll, October 17, 2011)

Why do you think that Israel agreed to conclude a prisoners exchange deal at this particular time? (Al-Najah poll, October 17, 2011)

Why do you think that Hamas agreed to conclude a prisoners exchange deal at this particular time? (Al-Najah poll, October 17, 2011)


Warned Ya: Israeli Soldier Shalit in Absurd Trade for Mega-Terrorists

Over the past five years, I repeatedly told people (to no avail) that they should stop demanding the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from his HAMAS captors. As I warned years ago, this would only result in more pressure on Israel to release a ton of Islamic terrorists to freedom in exchange. And, as is often the case on these matters, I was absolutely right. Today, news broke that Israel will–as I told you years ago it would–trade plenty of murderous Muslim terrorists from its prisons in exchange for one Shalit. I told ya so. But many of you wouldn’t listen. And now Israel will set free 1,000 hardened Islamic terrorists in exchange for one soldier. Mazel Tov.

And this is after Israel already freed 20 terrorists for a videotape of Shalit. Yes, 20 mass-murderers set free for a videotape. It’s like they are participating in a scavenger hunt, rather than fighting Islamic terrorists.

This is What Gilad Shalit’s Release Looks Like

One of those who may be released is Marwan Barghouti, an Islamic terrorist mastermind whom Yasser Arafat used to pay Islamic terrorist martyrs and their families. During their time in office, George W. Bush and Condi Clueless repeatedly pressured Israel to release this man–responsible for the murder of at least 38 innocent people–to freedom. Barghouti was behind several attacks and himself masterminded a major homicide bombing which killed many. Is it really worth freeing him and 999 others like him to get one Gilad Shalit (also spelled Gilad Schalit)? On the one hand a Jewish Israeli life is worth more than 1,000 barbarians’ lives, but his life is not worth setting them free on this world to wreak more havoc, more deaths, more destruction, more bloodshed. Is it? I’ve written over and over about these outrageous mass terrorist exchanges for one or two Israeli soldiers or their dead bodies. It never works. Never. It only encourages more kidnappings for more mega-releases of Islamic terrorists. You make nice with snakes, you get bitten.

While a good deal of this terrorist trade is the fault of the many who constantly demanded Shalit’s release (since only Israel felt the pressure and HAMAS couldn’t care less about the demands), no small blame falls on the parents of Shalit who sided with Islamic terrorists, appeared with them, and visited them in Israeli hospitals. They engaged in moral equivalence BS and attacked the actions of Israel and the Israeli Army for preventing terrorist attacks and retaliating against Islamic terrorists. I cannot even imagine American parents visiting and appearing with Nazis and attacking the US Armed Forces in order to get their sons out of POW camps during World War II. The Shalits are leftists on the order of Cindy Sheehan a/k/a Jihad Cindy #2.

Israel’s Cindy Sheehan, Noam Shalit, (right)

with Palestinians, Pal Official Saeb Erekat (left)

But this is what happens when you constantly cry out for the release of one Israeli soldier. It encourages HAMAS and other Muslims to kidnap more. They know you will demand action. They know that only Israel will respond to your demands. And they know that they can get a ton of terrorists out of prison for that one soldier.

I ask again: is it worth it? When you or one of your family members is the victim of one of these Islamic terrorists who was set free, then you can answer. Or when you or one of your family members is the next Gilad Shalit–the next Israeli soldier captured because they know you will get the Israeli government to release more Islamic terrorists . . . yet again.

It may sound heartless but it isn’t: Israel would be better off to let one soldier die in captivity than to constantly trade armies of terrorists for that soldier.

Negotiating with Cosa Islamic Nostra is no different than dealing with the Mafia. You always negotiate on their terms and always get burned. Once you get in, you can never get out. These kidnappings and terrorist trades will go on forever until Israel says no. And until the rest of us stop pressuring Israel to do what it takes to get the soldiers released.


Palestinians freed in Shalit deal killed 6 Israelis since 2014

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

The suspected mastermind behind a deadly West Bank terror attack last month was among 1,027 Palestinian inmates freed by Israel in exchange for the release from Gaza of the captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.

On Sunday, the Shin Bet announced it had detained four members of a seven-member Hamas cell who allegedly opened fire on a car near the settlement of Shvut Rachel in June, killing Malachy Rosenfeld, 25, and wounding three others.

Rosenfeld was the sixth Israeli to be killed in attacks carried out or planned by Palestinians released under the Shalit deal since April 2014.

One of the alleged cell members, Ahmad Najjar, a Hamas operative who was said to have orchestrated and funded the shooting attack from Jordan, has yet to be apprehended, the security service said. Before being released in the Shalit prisoner exchange, Najjar spent eight years in an Israeli prison for his involvement in previous terror attacks that killed three Israelis.

Hamas’s terror network in the West Bank is largely operated by former security prisoners based in Gaza, Israeli media reported Monday.

Under the terms of the 2011 swap, the majority of prisoners hailing from the West Bank were deported to Gaza, where they have been able to leverage their connections in the West Bank to facilitate attacks.

Prisoners released to the West Bank have also engaged in violent activity against Israelis, and the Palestinian Authority and Israeli security forces have rearrested dozens of them for rioting, hurling Molotov cocktails and funding terrorism.

Najjar’s arrest is a reminder of the cost Israel has paid for Shalit’s freedom, a scenario that critics of the deal predicted would unfold. Since 2014, six Israelis have been killed in terror attacks by Palestinian prisoners released under the Shalit prisoner exchange.

In April 2014, a few hours before the Passover Seder, Baruch Mizrachi was shot dead in a roadside attack near Hebron. The 48-year-old Israel Police superintendent was killed by Ziad Awwad, a Hamas operative released in the prisoner swap.

Mahmoud Kawasame, one of Hamas operatives who abducted and killed the Israeli teenagers Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach in June 2014, in a shocking attack that was among the triggers of the war in Gaza a month later, had also been released by Israel. Kawasame was originally imprisoned for his involvement in a 2004 suicide bus bombing in Beersheba that killed 16 Israelis. He was eventually shot dead by IDF soldiers.

Osama As’ad, a 29-year-old arms dealer from the West Bank refugee camp of Qalandia, who was imprisoned by Israel for selling weapons used in attacks and released under the Shalit deal, was recently rearrested for the lethal West Bank shooting of Danny Gonen in June.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shelved legislation that sought to institute the death penalty for convicted terrorists, in part in an effort to prevent future prisoner swaps.

I’ll tell you the truth: Life here in Israel isn’t always easy. But it's full of beauty and meaning.

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Hamas: Release of rearrested Shalit deal prisoners a precondition for new deal

The Hamas terror group on Monday said that a precondition for any prisoner swap deal with Israel was the release of dozens of terror convicts cut loose in a 2011 exchange and rearrested six years ago.

Reports several months ago said significant headway had been made in effort to secure a deal that would see Gaza rulers free two captive Israeli civilians and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.

“The release of the prisoners freed in the 2011 deal is a condition for starting talks on a new prisoner exchange,” said Hamas spokesperson Abdel Latif al-Qanua.

“The Palestinian resistance possesses strong leverage to secure the release of the prisoners in the occupation’s prisons, and is capable of forcing the occupation to submit to its demands,” Qanua boasted.

In a 2011 deal with Hamas, Israel released 1,027 Palestinian terror convicts in exchange for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been kidnapped in 2006.

After the murder of three Israeli teenagers in June 2014, Israel rearrested over 50 of them as part of Operation Brother’s Keeper in the West Bank.

Qanua, who spoke at an event marking the sixth anniversary of the arrests in front of the Red Crescent Office in Gaza, said that Israel rearresting the freed prisoners constituted “a violation of the terms of the deal” and “Zionist fraud.”

He called on Egypt, which mediated the 2011 deal, to pressure the Israeli government to “keep the terms of the deal.”

Hamas is holding Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, the two Israelis who entered Gaza, and the bodies of soldier Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, both killed in the 2014 war in the Strip.

Abu Obeida, a spokesperson for Hamas’s military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, on Thursday reaffirmed the terror group’s willingness to come to a new exchange with Israel for the two Israelis and the soldiers’ remains.

In April 2020, Israeli officials confirmed to Channel 12 that Jerusalem was conducting talks with Hamas for a potential exchange, but no public progress has been made since.

At the time, Hamas officials were said to have demanded two rounds of prisoner releases — the first round of 250 prisoners in exchange for information on the captives, the second in exchange for the actual delivery to Israel of the prisoners and the soldiers’ bodies. Israel refused the demands at the time.

I’ll tell you the truth: Life here in Israel isn’t always easy. But it's full of beauty and meaning.

I'm proud to work at The Times of Israel alongside colleagues who pour their hearts into their work day in, day out, to capture the complexity of this extraordinary place.

I believe our reporting sets an important tone of honesty and decency that's essential to understand what's really happening in Israel. It takes a lot of time, commitment and hard work from our team to get this right.

Your support, through membership in The Times of Israel Community, enables us to continue our work. Would you join our Community today?

Sarah Tuttle Singer, New Media Editor

We’re really pleased that you’ve read X Times of Israel articles in the past month.

That’s why we come to work every day - to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.

So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community.

For as little as $6 a month you can help support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREE, as well as accessing exclusive content available only to Times of Israel Community members.


Gilad Shalit and Palestinian prisoner swap prompts joy and anxiety

Jubilation that the biggest prisoner swap in Israel's history had secured the long-awaited release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinians gave way to caution and apprehension on both sides on Wednesday.

As preparations got under way in Israel, the Gaza Strip and Egypt for the first stage of the deal, the young sergeant's supporters said they feared last-minute hitches.

PLO officials questioned the absence of several high-profile Palestinian prisoners from the agreement, reached between Israel and its bitter enemy, the Islamic resistance movement Hamas.

In Gaza, the deal was hailed by volleys of celebratory gunfire. But joy in Israel was tempered by anxiety that was evident at the Shalit family's protest tent in Jerusalem. "This joy is mixed with a great deal of fear," said his mother, Aviva. "It is obvious that he won't be the same boy we sent off."

Ita Picker, a family friend, said: "We won't take down this tent until Gilad is here. There is still the fear that something will go wrong. We are still depending on Hamas and Egypt. We will not relax till we see him smiling and well at home."

Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, announced the dramatic deal on Tuesday night, but legal restrictions mean it cannot be implemented before next Tuesday. Israeli law requires that two days be allowed to grant those who oppose any prisoner swap time to appeal against the decision. Given this week's Sukkot holiday, Netanyahu is not expected to release the full list of prisoners set to be freed until Saturday evening.

The delay has allowed time for subdued reflection. Even among the bystanders at the Shalit tent in Jerusalem there was debate about the wisdom of releasing so many Palestinians, hundreds of whom were involved in acts of terrorism.

Daniel Shackovy, a 21-year-old soldier, came to the tent on his way back to his base on the Gaza border, not far from where Shalit was seized by Palestinian fighters in 2006. "My first reaction to the news was sympathy for the families of people killed by the Muslims who will be released. I feel bad for them," he said. "But being at the base puts all this in perspective. What happened to Gilad could happen to anyone. I know as a soldier that if I were in his position, I would want them to do anything they could to get me back."

Shalit's release will occur simultaneously with the first wave of 456 Palestinian prisoners, who will most likely be dropped at checkpoints into Gaza, the West Bank and on international borders. The names of these prisoners, of whom 279 were serving life sentences, have been agreed between the two sides. Israel will decide the 570 remaining prisoners to be released in two months. The deal has limited the numbers allowed to return to the West Bank to 110. Only 203 will be released to Gaza and the rest to Turkey and Europe.

Overall, the agreement is being seen as a victory for Hamas, the PLO's rival. Its Damascus-based leader, Khaled Meshal, arrived in Cairo on Wednesdayto oversee arrangements for the releases. Hamas TV in Gaza said 90% of its demands had been met. Egypt said Murad Muwafi, its intelligence chief, had played a key role.

In a little-noticed aspect of the story, Israel also apologised to Egypt for the incident in August when its forces killed five Egyptian policemen in Sinai during a shootout with Palestinian fighters who had infiltrated from Gaza.

Turkey also hailed the agreement as a "positive achievement" that would reduce tensions in the region. Britain, the EU and other western governments expressed their support. But officials in the West Bank questioned the timing of a deal that will go ahead in the week the UN Security Council is set to decide on President Mahmoud Abbas' bid for Palestinian statehood – a move opposed by Israel and Hamas as well as the US.

"I am shocked today because all the prisoners Hamas has promised to release for the past five years are absent from this deal," complained Qadura Fares, chairman of the Prisoners Club in the West Bank. "Taking into considerations the conditions accepted by Hamas, there is a feeling here that something has been cooked in secret – that there is a strong political element to this deal."

PLO supporters are especially unhappy at the absence of Marwan Barghouti, a leading member of Fatah, the backbone of the PLO, who is admired as a charismatic and authoritiative figure who could help heal internal divisions.

Another Palestinian who will not be going home is Amna Muna, serving a life sentence for her role in the death of 16-year-old Ophir Rachum, whom she met on the internet and lured to Ramallah where he was shot by Fatah militants. The nature of her case sparked damaging rumours in the closed, conservative West Bank society. Neighbour Rahib Henani, 37, who served time for terrorist activity in the same Israeli prison as Muna, warned that the prisoners may struggle to adapt to life after their release. "You have mixed feelings when you leave prison, you are happy to leave but that joy is bitter sweet as you are leaving loved ones behind you," he said. "Jail is a way of life."

Middle East analysts agree that while Hamas will benefit most politically from the prisoner deal, it does nothing to improve prospects for the long-stalled peace process.


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Comments (11)

(11) Anonymous, July 6, 2011 8:02 AM

as the Lubavitcher Rebbe said about the Russians

before the fall of the Iron Curtain, the Rebbe was firmly against the public uproar and demonstrations he said clearly that this defeats our purpose, that the Russians would prefer to release them with quiet negotiations. The Russians Jews later affirmed this.

(10) rg, July 6, 2011 7:54 AM

amazingly brilliant!

isn't it amazing how a Jew can use his genius to defeat his own purpose?

(9) LOUISE, January 16, 2011 7:50 AM

YOU AND I CAN BRING A CHANGE

Be it from the US, Europe, or elsewhere, what can each one of us do personally to help? I BELIEVE THAT ONE PERSON CAN CHANGE OUTCOMES WITH THE RIGHT DIRECTION.

(8) west_rhino, October 27, 2010 4:31 PM

One could always use an old tactic of the Philistines and terrorits. start executing the terrorists, er "hostages" sought in return for Shalit. Alas, purity of arms is considered as weakness by the enemies of Israel.

(7) zelda, October 14, 2010 6:23 PM

GO IN AND GET HIM

what happened to the Israel that went in to Entebbe, and the Israel that tracked down the killers from Munich? Negotiations. Please. Spare me the politics and get him out, one way or another.

(6) Mohammed Ahmed, October 12, 2010 7:26 PM

May we see a Jewish state of Israel living side by side with a peaceful Palestine.

Dear sir/madam, I am a Somali Muslim and I can swear that I am a great supporter of a Jewish state of Israel with secure borders living side by side in peace with Palestine. I must make myself clear if I am to be honest about peace in the Middle East. The ongoing settlement constructions in Palestinian territories in spite of international cries, will only increase anti-Semitic feelings not only in the Middle East but also around the world. I have read about the horrors of the Holocaust in the history books. I have always cried while watching films showing young Jewish children and innocent Jewish men and women being subjected to gas chambers by the Nazis. Everything that could spread anti-Semitism must be stopped. Such insidents as the horrific attacks on Gaza are one of the major contributary factors towards the increase of anti-Semitism around the the world. THANK YOU

(5) Mohammed Ahmed, October 12, 2010 7:26 PM

May we see a Jewish state of Israel living side by side with a peaceful Palestine.

Dear sir/madam, I am a Somali Muslim and I can swear that I am a great supporter of a Jewish state of Israel with secure borders living side by side in peace with Palestine. I must make myself clear if I am to be honest about peace in the Middle East. The ongoing settlement constructions in Palestinian territories in spite of international cries, will only increase anti-Semitic feelings not only in the Middle East but also around the world. I have read about the horrors of the Holocaust in the history books. I have always cried while watching films showing young Jewish children and innocent Jewish men and women being subjected to gas chambers by the Nazis. Everything that could spread anti-Semitism must be stopped. Such insidents as the horrific attacks on Gaza are one of the major contributary factors towards the increase of anti-Semitism around the the world. THANK YOU


Israelis Debate the Shalit Exchange

Majority public opinion in Israel continues to support the recent deal in which the Israeli government traded over 1000 terrorist prisoners for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, which I criticized here. But as this interesting CNN article explains, there is growing dissent:

While the deal to free Shalit was backed by a commanding Cabinet majority of 26-3 and enjoys wide support from the Israeli public, there is growing debate about the price Israel is willing to pay in order to free a single soldier.

Families of victims of terror, as well as some members of the Israeli government, have expressed fierce opposition to the deal. One minister who voted against the agreement called it “a great victory for terrorism,” and there are fears that the release of convicted murderers will lead to further attacks on Israeli civilians — a fear that, critics say, is borne out by statistics.

According to Israeli association of terror victims Almagor, 180 Israelis have lost their lives to terrorists freed in previous deals since 2000….

If the figure of 180 Israelis killed by exchanged terrorists is even remotely accurate, it greatly outweighs the number of Israeli hostages freed in such deals (16 according to this Slate article). And that number does not include the additional hostages taken by terrorists as a result of the success of previous efforts at hostage-taking. It also does not include Israelis killed by terrorists freed in deals prior to 2000, while the total of 16 Israelis exchanged includes all deals going back three decades.

Ironically, as the CNN piece points out, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the man who signed off on the current deal, understands the perversity of these kinds of arrangements perfectly well. He was a prominent critic of similar (though somewhat less lopsided) exchanges that the Israeli government agreed to in the 1980s:

Three years after the [1985] Jibril Deal, Netanyahu explained his philosophy about negotiating with terrorists to CNN’s Larry King. “On one case I did not swallow it. When my government did something that I simply could not live with, which was the release of jailed terrorists for three of our POWs. We wanted to get our POWs back, and the government, in my judgment, made a big mistake and traded terrorists. And here I was confronted with a situation that everything I believe in, in fact agitated for and tried to use an example of Israel for, to encourage other countries, especially the United States, to adopt a tough no-concessions policy against terrorists.”

In his 1995 book “A Place in the Sun” Netanyahu called the Jibril Deal “a fatal blow to Israel’s efforts to form an international front against terrorism” and warned of the hazardous consequences of such moves. “The release of a thousand terrorists…will inevitably lead to a terrible escalation of violence, because these terrorists will be accepted as heroes,” Netanyahu wrote.

Netanyahu’s critique of the 1985 deal applies with even greater force to his own more lopsided agreement.

UPDATE: Various commenters on this and my previous post on the same subject claim that the Israeli government had to do this in order to send its citizens a “message” about how much it valued their lives and was willing to pay a high price to save them. But if these deals lead to the deaths of far more innocent Israelis than they save, the real message sent will be exactly the opposite: that the government is willing to make a large net sacrifice of innocent life in order to gain short term public relations benefits or a short-term boost in national morale. It’s possible, of course, that Israeli public opinion is myopic enough that they will think that the government is saving life despite the fact that it is actually sacrificing a much larger enough of innocent lives. If so, there could be a more permanent and substantial boost in national morale. Even then, it will probably fade as public attention shifts to other issues. In any event, it’s not worth the sacrifice of numerous innocents and the creation of perverse incentives for terrorist groups.

UPDATE #2: Tyler Cowen responds to this post here:

Ilya is possibly underrating the power of signaling models. It is precisely the fact that that Israeli government will trade for this single life, even apart from whether it is instrumentally rational, that sends the relevant signal. The less “rational” the act, the more potent the signal of concern, and in this case the possible irrationality is stochastic, not certain…..

One can also read the Israeli government as signaling (correctly or not) that it has the power to prevent or at least limit future kidnappings. It is an expression of strength, or at least a belief in strength, and citizens seem to like that signal from their leaders.

I am not at all persuaded by Tyler’s argument. If Israel meant to signal that they can prevent future kidnappings, they have clearly failed. Hamas leaders have repeatedly stated that this exchange encourages them to take more hostages in the future. As soon as they do so, any Israelis who may have been deluded by this signal of “strength” will be disabused of the notion that strength is what is being signaled here.

If the goal is to show that Israel is willing to save its citizens even when it’s not “rational” to do so, then the message is self-defeating. In this case, it’s irrational because israel is actually sacrificing many more innocents than it will save. To the extent that the Israeli public understands that, they will be demoralized rather than encouraged. If they don’t understand it, they won’t understand that the action isn’t “rational” and thus won’t get the message that Tyler thinks the Israel government is trying to convey.


Watch the video: Gilad Shalit no Rio (August 2022).