Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gilad Shalit Back Home After More Than Five Years of Hamas Captivity

It's been more than five years since Hamas captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in an infiltration attack that killed two other Israelis. Shalit is now back home with his family. They were reunited at an Israeli airbase in Central Israel after being transferred to Egyptian authorities who then coordinated with Israel in bringing him home. He was held for 1,941 days.

Meanwhile, the Israelis are in the process of releasing 477 Palestinian terrorists. That is the first of two batches of terrorists to be released, with the total number of terrorists Israel is releasing coming to 1,027.

Those terrorists are being given a heroes welcome and Hamas isn't being shy about who they thought won this years' long battle. They did.

And I'd tend to agree.

Israel gave up far more to bring home its soldier than Hamas did. Hamas isn't changing its stated and public position that it seeks Israel's destruction. It isn't giving up its right to attack Israel and seek to kidnap other Israelis to force similar ransom swaps. Hamas gets Israel to release hundreds upon hundreds of terrorists for the price of a solitary Israeli soldier.

For Shalit's family, this was an excruciating saga, but it showed Israel's resolve to make sure that no Israeli would be left behind.

Someone who has a different point of view is Miki Goldwasser. If that last name rings a bell, it's because her Ehud son was one of two Israeli soldiers who was captured by Hizbullah and killed (along with Eldad Regev). His remains were eventually repatriated to Israel in exchange for several terrorists. She thinks that the Palestinians may crow about this lopsided exchange, but that the Palestinians really envy what Israel and Shalit has.
Make no mistake about it. They realize and feel this humiliation. They realize that they are not worth much if they are willing to exchange 1,000 of their own for one Israeli soldier. Do you really think that Gaza residents are not jealous of us, Israelis, for being so united around one soldier? It’s impossible not to envy us. Look at the global reactions – everyone is stunned.

In Israel, the mood of the people tends to fluctuate from one extreme to another. This time around, listen to the voice of reason and do not be deceived by the images from Gaza. The joy there is artificial. With the exception of the celebrating families, I don’t think most other Gaza residents are happy to see the release of thugs and criminals who killed Palestinians and their children mercilessly.

The released prisoners are mostly hooligans who took the liberty to rob and kill even their own people. Do you recall the images of the Gaza wedding where the celebrating family was murdered by a Hamas gang only because it dared to rejoice? I’m certain that Gaza residents are starting to fear what’s to come.
Israel paid a dear price to secure Shalit's release, but Hamas demanded a thousand prisoners in exchange. That lopsided swap cuts both ways. It does show that Hamas cares little for the lives of its own people and it shows how much weight a single Israeli life counts for.

Over the years, Israel has released 13,509 prisoners in exchange for 16 Israelis - that is nearly 800 to 1 ratio. I'm not even sure if that counts the prisoners released in order to secure a video showing proof that Shalit was still alive. In that instance, Israel released Palestinian prisoners just to get a video showing that Shalit alive. It wasn't even a prisoner swap for Shalit himself. Mind you that many of those released were non-violent offenders or those released somewhat earlier than their scheduled release dates, but the principle remains; Israel was more than willing to release large numbers of convicted prisoners to secure the release of its own people.

That's worth pondering, but I doubt the Palestinians will dwell on it as their leadership considers further attacks to capture still more Israelis to demand similar swaps. The only numbers they see are that if they can capture a single Israeli, they can force Israel to release hundreds, or thousands of convicted Palestinians held in Israeli jails on even the most serious of terror charges.

Even those who sought Shalit's release are taken back by the scale of what Israel was required to do to make the swap happen. More than 1,000 terrorists released. That's quite the price to pay.

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