Imagine the following situation: Israel has solid information that all the hostages are alive. The abductors demand the release of 53 terrorists – 53 terrorists can secure the hostages’ release. Now, imagine that we are not talking about three captives, but rather, about 105 hostages. And what does the Israeli government do? It adamantly refuses such deal.
Yet this is not an imaginary situation. Rather, this was reality in June 1976, before the Entebbe Operation.
We should note that the Entebbe case and today’s abductions are completely different. Yet one principle must remain the same: The calls to secure the captives’ release at any price must be rejected out of hand. And just to make the point, until today there was not even one prisoner swap where the freed terrorists did not proceed to kill; and this is a price too.
However, there is another moral consideration, and it is no less meaningful: The principle which the Israeli government currently aspires to, with the encouragement of the “at any price” people,” undermine the actions of many of our finest sons, some of whom were killed in operations meant to free hostages or elicit information about them.
Why did we embark on Second Lebanon War?
We must stop. Those who today approve the release of terrorists in exchange for the captives, at any price, will lose the moral authority to send our elite units tomorrow in order to free our captives or acquire information about them. If Israel can release terrorists in exchange for hostages, it must not risk the lives of soldiers to secure their release.
Moreover, why did Israel embark on the Second Lebanon War if it was possible to free our soldiers in exchange for many terrorists? Who will look into the eyes of the bereaved families who knew their son was sent to war in order to regain Israel’s deterrent power and secure the captives’ release? After all, if we can just free terrorists for our soldiers, then there certainly was no need for the war.
All of us are familiar with the Entebbe Operation and heard about the fears ahead of it, the letters sent by Yoni Netanyahu to his girlfriend before he embarked on the rescue mission, and the deep and frank belief that this was the right way. Lieutenant Colonel Yoni Netanyahu was killed in a heroic operation to free dozens of hostages so that there will be no need to free terrorists to secure their release.
If we continue with the capitulation strategy, it will be interpreted as though we looked into the eyes of the hero from Entebbe and told him: Yoni Netanyahu – turns out you were a sucker.
Knesset Member Israel Hasson (Yisrael Beiteinu) is a former Shin Bet deputy director