Yesterday, of course, was ‘Gilad Shalit Day’. Palestinians and supporters celebrated the end of the affair as a huge victory, a military operation which achieved its objective, which was to rescue their ‘heroes’ to fight again — which they promised to do.
Those on the side of Israel generally took one of two lines. Either
- The 1027:1 swap was a mistake that will prove disastrous, resulting in additional terrorist murders, boosting morale and popularity of Hamas, eviscerating Israel’s ability to deter terrorism, re-opening the wounds of the families of terror victims, etc.
- Israel’s behavior represented a triumph of Jewish morality, in which the imperative to redeem one captured soldier overrode the fear of future terrorism.
It’s interesting that the division was not necessarily along the lines of Right vs. Left (although clearly the tendency of the Right was to oppose the swap and the Left to favor it). One of the most uncompromising pro-Israel observers that I know, who can safely be characterized as on the Right, wrote this after watching Gilad’s return home:
Compare the pure soul of a magnificent Israeli soldier, a true hero, against 1000 Arab murderers, the assassins of so many Israeli innocent civilians, children, men, women, grand parents and babies in their cribs and ask yourself a simple question: who is worth more to humanity, who deserves to be rescued at any price? Yesterday, after watching the rescue of this young man who never harmed a fly, gentle, shy, noble, intelligent, educated and eloquent, who radiates sweetness and goodness, this man, our son, every Israeli’s son, was worth the price after all.
The anguish of the bereaved families who lost their loved ones in the hands of those scum, was felt by all of us, more than words can tell. But no amount of anguish could have brought the victims back. Gilad Shalit could be brought from the dead.
Now it is left to Israel’s IDF and intelligence services to make sure none of these terrorists would return to murder more of us. The chiefs of these services promised they can do it.
I was opposed to the deal for strategic reasons, which I won’t repeat here. Now that it’s done, we need to move forward.
First, let’s not dignify it by calling it a ‘prisoner exchange’. It was a jailbreak, executed by taking a hostage and holding a gun to his head.
Despite the ‘pardons’ that the prisoners received from President Shimon Peres, those who were murderers on Monday remain murderers today. Most of the worst of them have been exiled, some to Gaza, and some to Turkey, Qatar, or Syria. Israel should adopt a policy that if any of them are found in Israel (including the territories and Jerusalem) they will be subject to the death penalty. Those who were guilty of murder and not exiled should be rearrested and serve out their sentences. Israel does not have to keep its word to terrorists, who obtained it by duress.
Second, a death penalty must be implemented from now on for terrorist murder.
It will not be simple to do this. Can you imagine the demonstrations among Palestinians and the Israeli Left, the objections from the ‘civilized’ Europeans and the UN when anyone is scheduled to be executed? But a way will have to be found to quickly establish guilt and immediately carry out executions. There is simply no other way to deter terrorism.
There are some who advocate a “just shoot them” approach, in which security forces will not take prisoners when terror attacks occur. But this prevents the terrorists from being interrogated, and — worse — will never include the planners who kill without dirtying their hands.
Third, Israel must end the charade of the ‘peace process’.
The hero’s welcome and endorsement given to the released prisoners by Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (PA) should indicate — as if any more proof were needed — that, despite philosophical differences, the intentions of Hamas and the PLO toward Israel are identical.
Israel will not get secure borders from negotiations with the Palestinians. In light of the abrogation of the Oslo accords by the PLO indicated by its appeal to the UN, Israel should stop cooperating in any way with the PA, including collecting taxes for it and transferring funds to it.
Fourth, Israel must regain its posture of deterrence toward Hamas (and other terror factions).
In terms that the Arabs will understand, Israel must regain its honor. This may mean targeting Hamas leaders or some of the released prisoners. Hamas must pay a price that will make it clear that the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit and the jailbreak it facilitated was not a victory.
Update [20 Oct. 1031 PDT]: I’d incorrectly included Egypt as a place to which some terrorists were exiled. The correct destination is Qatar.