The debate over the price of securing Gilad Shalit’s release opens many wounds that shall never heal, while dividing the families of casualties into two camps: Those who claim that a soldier must be saved even at the price of releasing the murderers of their loved ones, and those who think that releasing the murderers will boost the cycle of terror.
The major argument against the move is as follows: The released terrorists shall return to the cycle of terror. The major counter-argument is as follows: Attempts to carry out terror attacks always happened and will continue to happen. Terrorist groups have reserves of murderers and are not waiting for those prisoners. And here is yet another argument: The conditions accorded to terrorists at Israeli prisons enable them to plan attacks and relay information into Gaza. On the other hand, anyone who is released will be familiar to the Shin Bet and IDF intelligence branch and will be watched with a magnifying glass.
The punishment of these terrorists, even if they were sentenced to several life sentences, is ineffective because of their imprisonment conditions: They are well fed, enjoy medical care, and have access to television, radio, and books. They often complete academic degrees while in jail, enjoy visits by the Red Cross and other organizations, and receive letters and photos. All of this comes at the expense of Israeli taxpayers, who are struggling to make a living and cannot always afford to send their children to university.
Funds that should have been designated to fighting crime, violence, and road accidents are being transferred to the prisons instead. Personally, when sitting at a coffee I am more scared of being hurt by a hand grenade lobbed by warring criminals, rather than by terrorists.
I would have liked to convince the families who object to the release of prisoners to join me in the struggle for raising the awareness of what’s ahead. A struggle for creating such deterrence that would make it clear to terrorists and their families that they shall not achieve a thing via terror. Yet to my regret, we lost our deterrence. Even today, in the wake of operation Cast Lead, we are again losing our deterrent power.
Victory for IsraelHow could it be that those who were defeated and whose leaders were hiding in the sewers as if they were rats are now coming out of their holes and dictating the terms to us? This is where our failure lies. Here and now we are seeing the government's failures. Israeli governments have failed to understand that in the Middle East respect is given to those who respect themselves, and that concessions lead to more concessions and to ultimate capitulation. Those who make concessions are pressured to make more of them.
Why isn't the siege tightened? Why aren't Red Cross visits to Palestinian prisoners prevented? Why are funds again being transferred to Gaza? Did the fund-transfers to Palestinian Authority employees and the effort to "boost" Abbas prevent the murder of Fatah men and the terrible shots directed at their legs with the aim of maiming them?
All of the above was not done during Gilad's three years in captivity, yet today we are concerned by the release of prisoners? Isn't the damage to Israel's morale worth the release of those scumbags? In fact, releasing many prisoners in exchange for one of our soldiers constitutes a victory for us. For us, every soldier is worth 1,000 terrorists.
Should Gilad not be released now, there is a chance we shall lose him for a long time; possibly, heaven forbid, forever. This is precisely what happened with Ron Arad. Gilad could have been released a long time ago. Today, he is the symbol for practicing our values. He is the value. We must bring him back home.