In 1985, the Peres government freed over 1,000 terrorists in exchange for three prisoners being held by the PFLP. The terrorists included Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin and key figures in the First Intifada.
In 2011, Netanyahu freed another over 1,000 terrorists in exchange for Gilad Shalit. The freed terrorists included some of the worst monsters in custody and a number of them played roles in the Oct 7 atrocities.
There is a straightforward ‘why’ here. Actually a number of them.
Israel has no empathy immune system against the demands of the family members of the hostages. Suggestions from the right that the government should not be listening to the families of the hostages were denounced as horrifying and evil. And yet you can’t win a war if you allow yourself to be taken hostage. When Islamic terrorists take individuals hostage and by doing so take an entire country hostage, wars are lost.
Every intelligent person understands this, but few Israelis and pro-Israel figures can bring themselves to say it. There are a lot of analyses that talk about how the hostage deal was “inevitable”. I’ve used that word myself. It’s not inevitable because it had to happen, but because the same choices are being made that were also made before.
Modern civilized nations have gotten into the horrid habit of paying ransoms for hostages to enemy nations and terror groups. We do it. The Euros do it. Israel does it.
Sure, the Biden administration was pressuring the Israeli government. So were the media and parts of the country. But the Jibril Deal in ’85 and the Shalit deal were not made in response to outside pressure, but to internal pressure.
To win, you have to make tough choices. We, America, Israel, used to be able to make those tough choices. We’re unable to make those choices when it comes to fighting the enemy. And we certainly aren’t making them when it comes to hostages.
But when you don’t make tough decisions, you’re faced with carnage and worse choices.
Israel failed to strike first before the Yom Kippur War. The resulting surprise attack nearly destroyed the country. During efforts to defend the Suez Canal, a disabled tank with its crew had to be pushed into the war, killing everyone inside to avoid the entire line of tanks behind it being taken out. When you aren’t aggressive enough with the enemy, you end up having to make tough choices. But when you can’t make those tough choices, you lose.
You can’t always save everyone and destroy the enemy. You have to choose. And when you make the wrong choice, you don’t save lives, you cost lives.
Gilad Shalit’s cost over 1,000 Israeli lives already. How many lives will this one cost?