Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Prisoner Exchange for Israeli Sergeant Gilead Schalit

After five years of captivity, Sgt. Schalit is to be released. The price was high - the current number is 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for one Israeli soldier. I cannot find fault with the Israeli government for making this move. The pressure to get him back was enormous, especially and understandably from Sgt. Schalit's family.
I cannot imagine the grief that they experienced during this period.

[Later added note  10/17/2011- I am not happy with my choice of words when I stated that I could not find fault with the decision of the Israeli government, especially as the details and identities of some of the Palestinians have surfaced. I should have stated that I could not find fault for doing all that it could to secure Sgt. Schalit's release as long as the results would not further endanger the Israeli state as a whole. The amount of prisoners being released and the sorts of crimes many of them have commited make it likely that the nation will be more at risk once the release is complete. In particular, one of the soon-to-be released was the subject of the infamous and utterly barbaric scene of one of the murderers of Israeli soldiers in 2000, where the actor showed himself at a second story window and displayed his hands, covered with his victim's blood, in an air of triumph.]

The obvious concern at this point will be what sort of precedent is being set. It can be assumed that the IDF will have to continue to take all sorts of measures to prevent further abductions of their troops. Even if the current ratio of Palestinians for Israelis is reduced by 90%, further exchanges will not be sustainable as the result will be that any Palestinian will, prior to contemplating a criminal act, know that his chances of obtaining an early release will be pretty good.

Hamas has repeatedly engaged in the building of tunnels to enter Israel, either to smuggle in weapons and explosives or to capture IDF personnel. I find it highly unlikely that this deal will result in Hamas backing off with their methods. They will be emboldened by this move.

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