ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | The Right Not to Pay Every Price for Gilad's Freedom 28.6.10

The Right Not to Pay Every Price for Gilad's Freedom

28 June 2010

By Yisarel Ne'eman

It is hard to believe but it finally happened. Those opposed to the wholesale release of Palestinian terrorists at all costs in exchange for Israel's abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, were finally heard, even if for one full day – this past Friday. As tens of thousands attend the march for Gilad and put pressure on the government to make whatever further concessions are necessary, regardless of the security consequences, those who oppose such an approach not only made their position clear but found they have quite a bit of support from media analysts and coalition politicians. This government says they have red lines. They should only stick to them.

Everyone wants Gilad freed. He has now been a Hamas prisoner for four years, but it is a matter of price. Israel is willing to release one thousand Hamas prisoners in exchange for his freedom, many with "blood on their hands" – lots of it. It is known that in the past two massive exchanges (Jabril-1985 and Tanenbaum-2004) 65% of released terrorists returned to terror in one form or another. Those released in the Lebanon Jabril exchange, organized and were instrumental in forming Hamas and the more radical wings of the PLO - and we paid heavily. When the Palestinian Low Intensity Conflict of 2000-2004 (Second Intifada) was just about over we had the Tanenbaum exchange, extending the terror war against us by a few months, killing a dozen more Israelis and injuring tens more.

The Shalit family has every right to do whatever they can to free their son. But PM Netanyahu, his government and the defense establishment must look at the entire strategic picture and ensure the safety of Israel and its population. And that outweighs the unbelievable Hamas demands, most of which we are willing to accept. The main issue of contention revolves around some 40-45 prisoners who were involved in the biggest bus and restaurant bombings. Several of those masterminds are responsible for the murders of tens of victims each. Logic says one should never let them free although it appears the government will even consider such a move but on condition. They can go to Gaza or outside the country but not to the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).

As dedicated Jihadists, these terrorists and organizational masterminds will go underground when returning to terror. There will be more bombings targeting civilians as usual and possible shellings from the West Bank, but this time not into Sderot, but into Raanana, Kfar Saba, Jerusalem, Ben Gurion airport and possibly into Tel Aviv. And how many soldiers will get killed and injured when trying to once again apprehend these recycled terrorists?

And what of the stability we now have on the West Bank, in particular with the economic growth sustained by Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad and his development policies? With an outbreak of terror and violence we will never get to Stage II of the Bush Road Map with its temporary Palestinian State. President Mahmoud Abbas, Fayyad and General Dayton's security force in the West Bank may very well find themselves overwhelmed and possibly overthrown by a renewed Hamas initiative beginning with a military challenge. At best Israel and Fatah will find themselves facing years of another grinding terror offensive costing thousands in dead and wounded.

In the wake of the Turkish flotilla Hamas is looking better all the time, not through negotiations, but through brute force, whether they get help from the Turks or whatever other outside sources exist or if they inadvertently receive aid from those demanding Gilad's release regardless of price or security consequences. This is all reminiscent of the Four Mothers of South Lebanon variety (notoriety?), even though they had good intentions. As one might recall, or prefer to forget, four women with sons serving in South Lebanon in the late 1990s organized civil protests to force the Israeli government to withdraw to the international boundary, explaining that Hezbollah would honor such a move in accordance with international law. They succeeded in gaining enormous support, with the majority of Israelis backing their initiative (men included). Former commander in chief of the Israeli army PM Ehud Barak withdrew from South Lebanon in 2000. The only catch was and is that Hezbollah had and has no regard for international law, a legal system disregarded by Khomeinist and Jihadi organizations. They follow Islamic law which calls for the dominance of Islam world wide.

Of course Hezbollah became more daring all the time and in the end Israel found itself involved in the 2006 Second War in Lebanon. When interviewed in the media at the outset of that conflict one of the women admitted confusion and was forced to acknowledge she did not particularly understand how all this had happened. All those tens of thousands of supporters who showed up for marches, bike rides, demos or whatever disappeared.

Shalit supporters (excluding family and friends who have a deep personal interest) are not taking into consideration the overall picture but rather want to be part of a humane venture, good liberal Western values. How will those same values stand up to the next terror offensive? Or the possible collapse of Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas' government and with it any chance of a two state solution? Instead of blaming the Israeli government they should be accusing Hamas of human rights violations - Gilad has not seen a Red Cross representative nor received visitors. They should be playing up how much Israel is willing to pay for his release. Instead the government's position has been weakened and in the end we may pay a particularly heavy price

We do not live in some sort of blissful Switzerland. Israel has plenty of enemies demanding its destruction. Those 40-45 mastermind terrorists must be kept out of the West Bank, they can be sent to Gaza or elsewhere. And the Shalit supporters should make that clear to everyone. Should the government be pressured into such an exchange, who will explain to the families of the dead and wounded that such casualties are the price that had to be paid? What will they be told? "At least Gilad is free" ?