Wednesday 12 October 2011

One Israeli is worth a thousand terrorists.

The news that Gilad Shalit is to be released, which broke yesterday, is a cause for rejoicing and comes appropriately the day before the Jewish ‘season of joy’ Tabernacles.

But the release is long overdue. Shalit was kidnapped on 25 June 2006 and has spent five soul-destroying years as a prisoner of Hamas. During Shalit’s 63 months of imprisonment, Hamas has refused to allow the International Red Cross to visit Shalit. Human rights organisations have stated that the terms and conditions of the young soldier’s confinement are contrary to international humanitarian law and since his kidnapping, the only contact between Shalit and the outside world has been three letters, an audio tape, and a DVD that Israel received in return for releasing 20 female Palestinian prisoners.

The price Israel is paying for the release of Shalit is 1000 Palestinian prisoners, almost half of them serving long sentences for some of the worst terrorist atrocities in the Israel’s history. Do not imagine for one nano-second that any of those merchants of terror will have learned the errors of their ways in prison. They will walk free, ready for action once again.

Politics is a difficult business but Hamas, Hezbullah and the PLO have learned once again that terror and kidnapping pay, while the international media will continue to draw an equivalence between the release of one young IDF soldier and a hundreds of terrorists. Releasing 1000 terrorists back to Gaza and the West Bank makes it more likely that Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon too will redouble their efforts to kidnap yet more Israeli soldiers.

In a book published in 1995 BinyaminNetanyahu wrote that prisoner exchanges were
‘a mistake that Israel made over and over again’ and that refusing to release terrorists from prison was ‘among the most important policies that must be adopted in the face of terrorism.’

‘The release of convicted terrorists before they have served their full sentences seems like an easy and tempting way of defusing blackmailed situations in which innocent people may lose their lives, but its utility is momentary at best.

‘Prisoner releases only embolden terrorists by giving them the feeling that even if they are caught, their punishment will be brief. Worse, by leading terrorists to think such demands are likely to be met, they encourage precisely the terrorist blackmail they are supposed to defuse.’

On the other hand, as Melanie Philips perceptively observes, ‘once Shalit comes home the Hamas in Gaza will have lost their most valuable human shield of all.’

‘For five years,’ writes Miss Phillips, ‘they have used their young Israeli captive -- whose fate has been the focus of such public agony within Israel -- to tie the Israelis' military hands. Now, it would seem, all such bets will be off.’

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