'We can't bend our ideology due to threats,' teens say
Photo: Gadi Kabal

Teens: Don’t exchange terrorists for our freedom

Ahead of their army enlistment, high school seniors circulate petition opposing prisoner swaps like Shalit deal. 'Even if we're abducted, don't free terrorists for our sake,' they say

A week after Gilad Shalit's return from captivity, dozens of spirited teens signed a petition opposing the release of terrorists – even in the event that they themselves become prisoners of war.


"If I'm abducted, I prefer to stay in prison so that terrorists are not released," said David Lotan, a Rishon Lezion teen who signed the petition. "My life is not any more important than the lives of those who will be killed if terrorists are freed."


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The high school seniors' petition reflects Lotan's sentiment: "In the event that we are abducted, we do not want terrorists to be released in exchange (for our freedom)." 


Hamburger, Sharlo and Gabai with fellow petitioners (Photo: Gadi Kabalo) (Photo: Gadi Kabalo)
Hamburger, Sharlo and Gabai with fellow petitioners (Photo: Gadi Kabalo)

The future IDF soldiers note in the letter that they would agree to a prisoner swap, if it was done in accordance with international conventions that call for one POW to be exchanged for another.


Moreover, the teens demand the state downgrade terrorists' imprisonment conditions.


"A situation where heinous murderers study for academic degrees and enjoy fancy meals is an intolerable disgrace," they wrote.


The youths expect to gather hundreds, if not thousands of signatures before submitting the letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.


Those who have already signed the petition said they intend to enlist in the army's combat units after graduating from high school. Some claimed that they have already been accepted to the army's elite brigades.


Masses celebrate prisoners' return in Gaza (Photo: Reuters)
Masses celebrate prisoners' return in Gaza (Photo: Reuters)

While many of the teens who have joined the cause come from the National Religious sector, some secular teens are also on board, like Yohai Kadosh, 17. The Ashdod resident said that he intends to become a combat soldier, and is fully aware of the risks.


"I don’t want the state to be put in danger because of me," he said. "We shouldn't compromise our ideology because of threats."


Idan Zion, 17, of Ashdod added: "If I am released but another Israeli citizen is killed, it wouldn't be worth it."


The teens suggest that the latest deal, which brought Shalit home in exchange for the freedom of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, was a mistake that will cost lives.


"A thousand terrorists is a number that proves that the decision meant surrender," Liav Hamburger, 18, said.


"If the terrorists know that we don't capitulate to terror, the motivation to abduct would be reduced," Noam Sharlo, 18, added.


The petition was initiated by the National Union party's Young Leadership movement.


Gilad Shalit embraces his father upon return (Photo: GPO)
Gilad Shalit embraces his father upon return (Photo: GPO)

"History proves that the release of terrorists encourages more kidnappings," said Daniel Gabai, 18, a coordinator at the movement. "We saw the pictures of the released terrorists, and it drove us to put this petition together.


"We believe that this is the right way to prevent more abductions and the release of thousands of more terrorists. Our parents support us, too," he added.


Gabai acknowledged that nothing can stop a captive soldier's parents from making efforts to bring their son home.


"We realize that if, God forbid, we are abducted, our parents will do everything to free us," he said.


But at this stage, Gabai noted, it is the brain that calls the shots and not the heart, "and the brain says that one person is not worth dozens of people who might be killed."


MK Uri Ariel (National Union) submitted on Monday a bill that aims to prevent future prisoner swap deals that exchange one captive soldier for several prisoners.


"I join the high school students' petition, because civilians should sign it, too," Ariel said.




פרסום ראשון: 10.25.11, 23:53
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