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Last week, Israel rejoiced as one of its sons returned home. After five years of captivity, held by the Hamas terrorist organization without so much as a Red Cross visit, Gilad Shalit was reunited with his family, with his people. Of course, it was a bitter-sweet moment, as Israel paid an exorbitant price to secure Shalit’s freedom: the release of 1027 Palestinian prisoners, a third of whom were serving life sentences for perpetrating crimes against humanity.
It is indisputable that Israel will pay for this lop-sided deal with the blood of its citizens. Israel’s Almagor Terror Victims Association estimates that since 2004, 183 Israelis have been killed in attacks carried out by terrorists who were released from Israeli jails. This trend will no doubt continue. Yet the deal was made and Shalit is home, a representation of Israel’s unmatched belief in the power of human potential, that which has fuelled Israel’s success in the first place.
Right or wrong, the focus now shifts to what can be learned from the Shalit ordeal.
The most obvious realization is that a just peace cannot be forged with those whose notion of justice incorporates clemency for criminals, in a ratio exceeding 1000:1. How can a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be achieved when the Palestinians glorify death above statehood; with a people that celebrates destruction and not creation? Palestinians across the board hailed the Shalit deal as a “national achievement.” What type of “nation” is this?
The nature of Palestinian society was perfectly encapsulated by an event that took place immediately following the release of Palestinian prisoner Wafa al-Biss. Biss was arrested in 2005 while traveling to Beersheba’s Soroka hospital for medical treatment, when Israeli soldiers at the Erez border crossing noticed she was walking laboriously. The soldiers found 10 kilograms of explosives sewn into Biss’s clothing, and she later admitted that her intent was to blow herself up at the checkpoint, but her detonator malfunctioned. Biss’s first destination upon her release was a Palestinian school in the West Bank, where she told dozens of exuberant children, “I hope you will walk the same path we took and G-d willing, we will see some of you as martyrs.” After she spoke, the children cheered and waved Palestinian flags and chanted, “We will give souls and blood to redeem the prisoners. We will give souls and blood for you, ‘Palestine.’” These children are the future leaders of a Palestinian state.
Nor is this an isolated event. As Jerusalem Post contributor Marc Belzer noted, “They [the released Palestinian prisoners] are not deviants of society, but rather society itself.” Even the so-called “moderate” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed home the “martyrs” in an elaborate ceremony. Needless to say Hamas has already confirmed it will continue to target Israeli soldiers for abduction, and it is now using the Shalit deal to shore up political support, having already challenged Abbas “to enter into elections to see the extent of his popularity in the Palestinian street.”
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