Gilad Shalit has been in captivity for more than two years now. The media is replete with harsh descriptions regarding the conditions his captors are holding him in – a cellar or a narrow tunnel, without any daylight. I don't know what the source of these descriptions is and whether they are based on intelligence information or imagination. However, there is no doubt that we need to get Shalit back home.
The debate seemingly focuses on how many terrorists should be released for him and how much blood we may accept on their hands. Is it moral to free hundreds of terrorists when everyone knows that anywhere between a third and a half of them will attempt to kill Jews again?
In our cemeteries one can find hundreds of buried Jews who were murdered by those released from Israeli prison in these types of tainted deals. Yet the debate regarding the number of prisoners and blood on their hands diverts it from what should be its main focus: The military option.
The Gaza Strip is a terror hub established through the folly of Israeli governments and by ignoring our national and security interests. This terror hub can be dismantled, however. We can fix what we ruined. Yet the correction has to start from this point. Capitulation to Arab terrorism in the form of Hamas' Gaza regime paves the way for a complete Arab victory over Israel. What's hanging in the balance is no longer Shalit's release, but rather, the State of Israel's liberation. Israel is a hostage at this time. Moreover, the Gaza Strip is within arm's reach; within walking distance.
In the 1970s and 1980s Israel scored important victories against terror; these triumphs often exacted a heavy human toll, as was the case with the hijacked bus on the Coastal Road and the hostage-taking in Maalot. We even went as far as Uganda in order to rescue our hostages. Yet there is no doubt that had Olmert and his spineless government were leading Israel at the time, we wouldn't even be considering a military move: Because of the distance and risk. Instead, we would have released thousands of terrorists. Yet during those days, capitulation to terrorism wasn't an option.
Even when IDF soldier Nachshon Waxman was abducted, Israel's leaders chose a risky military operation that ultimately ended in failure – the captive was killed, as did Nir Poraz, a Sayeret Matkal officer who died during the rescue operation. Yet the message conveyed to terror groups was that Israel does not capitulate to terror.
There is a military optionThere is a military option in Gaza. We can issue an ultimatum to Hamas that Israel would assassinate one of its leaders in Gaza or elsewhere every day if Gilad Shalit is not released at once. We can embark on a targeted operation based on existing intelligence information, or a broad operation if we lack such accurate intelligence information. We can kill every terrorist on the way, go from one house to the next, and while we're at it blow up Qassam rocket workshops, arms caches, and tunnels. We can pulverize Hamas in Gaza as we pulverized the PLO in the First Lebanon War, and unlike what we did to Hizbullah in the Second Lebanon War (the reason we didn't do it was not lack of power, but rather, deficient political and military leadership.)
The alternative is not only capitulation to terror and the release of thousands of murderers. The alternative is reconciling ourselves to Hamas' military buildup and fortification, until its rockets reach Tel Aviv and Dimona – then, we shall have to enter Gaza and pay a much greater price because of our current cowardice, hesitation, and flawed political considerations, which come in place of decisive national considerations.
Gilad Shalit must not become the reason for avoiding a war on terror. If this materializes and this is the way adopted by Israel, terror groups will realize that they found the way not only to release the murderers in our jails, but also "their entire Palestine."
Tomorrow, more soldiers will be abducted for the sake of Mount Dov (which they refer to as the Shebaa Farms,) and two days from now, they will kidnap more troops and demand that we withdraw from Hebron. They will demand Temple Mount in exchange for several abducted civilians, and if, heaven forbid, they take over a kindergarten, they'll demand Arab autonomy in the Galilee.
There is no logical reason for them to stop, unless we stop and say: No more.
Knesset Member Arieh Eldad, National Union-NRP