Israel Awaits Return of ‘Gilad Shalit’


“Those released will return to armed struggle. It is a great national achievement.” Khaled Mashal, Chairman, Hamas Political Bureau, Damascus, Syria

“The Nation of Israel is a unique people. We are all mutually responsible for each other, as our Sages said: ‘He who saves one soul, it is as though he saved an entire world.’ Tonight, I bring the Government a proposal to save Gilad Shalit, to finally bring him home to Israel after five years.”- Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister, Jerusalem, Israel

The family of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier that has been in captivity five years, is awaiting reunion with their son. Israel is awaiting his return, alive and sane, into the embrace of a whole nation.

The Israeli government is in a special session deliberating negotiating 450 terrorists in exchange for Gilad.

Hamas has ordered Gazans to the streets in a show of celebration and has vowed to continue kidnapping Israeli soldiers and citizens since it is an excellent get out of jail free card.

The euphoria is mixed with so much sadness, that one stops in one’s tracks not knowing whether to cry for joy that one person is being returned (hopefully alive and not in body parts as was the case with Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev of blessed memories), while so many of the worst human kind are being let free to engage, once again, in their favorite pastimes:

Crushing the skull of a baby, slitting a toddler’s throat, murdering a couple along with their kids or a father with his one year old son, or just four people driving together or even just a group celebrating Passover. They do it with glee and fanfare, for only Jewish blood can quench their thirst. Then they send their own daughters to an activity, such as learning to play the piano or the violin, knowing that she is safe, because Jews would never engage in such atrocities.

There were once red lines. There was once (and again) a commission of inquiry headed by a retired judge that made recommendations on exactly how to behave in such cases. It sounds cold, cruel, and we are mere humans. How can any one of us decide if the life (or the remains) of one soldier justifies setting free numerous terrorists who murdered in cold blood and are certain to do so again?

This is exactly the reason for the existence of such guidelines, well thought in advance, that should be followed when the pressure is immense and the considerations go beyond the individual being held in captivity.

For five long years Israel has not dared, or was unable due to a plethora of reasons, to free Gilad Shalit from captivity, dead or alive. There was intelligence suggesting he was in Sudan and not in the tunnels of Gaza. Israel did not, probably could not, do anything. It was so much easier to pull off miracles when less of the world was complicit in such deep anti-Israel hatred as today.

Imagine, just for a second, Israeli Special Forces setting Shalit free now. Imagine that the agreement now being reached had exposed the whereabouts of Shalit and opened a window of opportunity to act. Unlikely, but what a comforting thought.

Instead, what Israel should-but will not-do is to extract a price, so dear, so painful, so outrageous that Hamas, Hezbollah and any other Iranian crony will know: DO NOT MESS WITH US.

Why are terrorists receiving clemency from a death sentence to vacation-and-receive-education in Israel? Israel does not execute murderers (with the exception of Eichmann). It is time for this policy to change. Expedite the departure of these sub-humans, their early introduction to the 72 virgins awaiting them (and whatever awaits female suicide bombers).

Enter Israel to kidnap another soldier? Israel should mercilessly go on the offensive and respond. Israel tried to do so in the Second War in Lebanon (which exposed the Israeli military as unprepared and untrained). Has any lesson been learned? Will it be any different tomorrow? The next time they commit their atrocities against Israelis?

“We cannot,” say those at the helm. “Our hands are tied,” say the lawyers. “We must not,” say the conscientious objectors who care more about the enemy than about human life.

So here is the guarantee: Shalit is not the last, and what will Israel hold next time as a bargaining chip? If all red lines have been wiped out and ignored this time around, why would an enemy respect Israel and not demand more? Israel’s enemies know and understand preciousness of one Jewish life to the Jewish people, and they use this to their ultimate advantage.

May Shalit return home alive with body and faculties unscathed. Yet, those concerned about Shalit’s mental health after five years in captivity should also consider the mental health of the hundreds of families whose loved ones perished at the hands of these terrorists, now being freed, who chose unspoken cruelty and executed their missions in cold blood. Who will consol and comfort them? From where will they derive strength when they go to comfort and support all the new families sure to be entered to the circle of misery and sorrow?

Terror will not end. Democratically elected Hamas has a face, hands and feet. These must be cut, one after the other, until there are no more. Until each and every Gazan understands that Hamas affiliation means certain death. Only then will Israel’s multitude of enemies take a step back and internalize the lesson. Only then Israel might be taken slightly more seriously than the miserable image projected at present.

Shalit may be on his way home, but at what price to the State of Israel?

In the series “Postcards from Israel,” Ari Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers throughout the world to join them as they present reports from Israel as seen by two sets of eyes: Bussel’s on the ground, Zager’s counter-point from home. Israel and the United States are inter-related – the two countries we hold dearest to our hearts – and so is this “point – counter-point” presentation that has, since 2008, become part of our lives.