On Sunday, the Israeli government voted by an overwhelming majority to support a prisoner exchange with Hizbullah for the return of two IDF soldiers captured on July 12, 2006. After assessing and analyzing all available information, Israeli intelligence services came to the conclusion that Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were no longer alive.
This dramatic information, already known by the prime minister and the security cabinet, did not change the fact that Israel once again agreed to release living prisoners in exchange for the bodies of IDF soldiers fallen in combat.
For Israeli society, the soldiers, who are referred to as the sons and the children of Israel, are priceless. When they wear the uniform of the IDF and defend their country during their military service or reserve duty, these men and women become sacred. No one has the right to kidnap or capture an Israeli soldier and if this does happen, we must do everything necessary to liberate them dead or alive.
For the IDF and the Israeli people, a soldier in the hands of the enemy is the worst possible scenario. It calls into question the deterrence power of the army, as well as the responsibility and accountability of its commanders, and exposes the political dysfunction of the decision making process.
As soon as a soldier is kidnapped and held captive, the countdown begins. Every second, every minute, every day, every month is mentioned, recalled, memorized for the State of Israel which, in these moments, is much more than a State, but a community, a tribe, a family in which a child has been stolen but not forgotten. And if we continue on this logic, the members of the tribe of Israel will do everything to bring the stolen child back home dead or alive.
Israel's power lays in the fact that its 12 tribes are joined together as one people, a people who could never and will never accept the stealing of one of their own. Let us all take a moment to remember Captain Nir Poraz, the officer killed in an operation to release soldier Nahshon Waxsman, who was kidnapped and killed by Hamas.
True power of IsraelToday, Israel awakes knowing that Ehud and Eldad are both dead, killed by Hizbullah. The news is painful and the price is heavy. In exchange for the bodies of our two soldiers we have agreed to release Samir Kuntar, a terrorist who murdered a whole family in Nahariya in 1979, and several other Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners.
At the same time, we are still awaiting the liberation of Gilad Shalit. In Israel, we miss him as if he was once part of our daily lives, as if we used to speak with him every day over coffee and grew up next to him. For Shalit, we will also pay a heavy price. Hundreds of prisoners, including murderers and criminals will be released. But here too, the tribe cannot wait any longer or make him wait any longer.
Many people express in logical, rational, Cartesian terms their disagreement, their incomprehension of the fact that Israel exchanges living prisoners for dead ones; even when tomorrow Israel will exchange hundreds of Palestinian prisoners for Corporal Gilad Shalit.
With that in mind, I think that our answer should be that the true power of Israel is the unity of the nation when confronted with adversity – transforming a nation of people into a tribe. The leader of the tribe during these moments is not this or that prime minister, but the tribe itself.
Israelis, by an overwhelming majority, accept the price of an exchange and are even ready to pay for it in there own blood if needed to recover one of their own from the hands of the enemy. And for those who fear seeing more abductions and kidnappings in the future, which unfortunately can occur again, they must understand that Israel will have to always pay a very expensive price.
In our nation, when one person is missing the entire nation suffers and therefore, just like in the case of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, we will not only recover a body, we will also recover the peace of mind, and of the heart and the soul of the nation.
The return of our soldiers heals the nation and finally offers our fallen sons a Jewish burial in the earth of the State of Israel. And this is priceless.
Olivier Rafowicz is the CEO of Infolive.tv