A Raw Deal: Hamas releases IDF soldier in exchange for over 1,000 Terror Suspects

Amidst scenes of jubilation, newspaper headlines, and triumphant speeches, Israeli serviceman Gilad Shalit has come home.

Five years ago, he was abducted by Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas in a cross-border raid that reads more like a James Bond novel than a terrorist operation. But now, some five years later, Israel has finally gotten Hamas to release Shalit, who has reportedly spent most of his confinement in a bunker, alone except for guards.

Staff Sgt. Shalit saluted the Prime Minister of Israel as he arrived at an IDF airbase in central Israel

The price for Shalit’s freedom? 1,027 terror suspects, mostly from Palestine and Egypt. Included in the deal was Ibrahim Jundiya, who was to serve multiple life sentences for orchestrating a deadly 2002 suicide bombing of a Jerusalem bus depot, and Amir Jabar Sharif Sawalma, convicted of the murder of two IDF soldiers in 2003.

The population of Israel, however, seems uniformly behind the deal. Public approval of the deal reached 79% in some polls, and Prime Minister Netanhayu himself expressed the importance of Shalit’s freedom to Israelis.

“The deal I am bringing to the government expresses the right balance between all of these considerations [those of national security and the “in-built tension…to bring back an abducted soldier”] said Mr. Netanhayu as he put forward the plan a week ago.

A small minority disagree, however- and disagree vehemently.

“Those who will pay the price of the swap are the scores and hundreds of wounded and dead from future terror attacks”, announced Meir Indor, head of the anti-terrorism NGO Almagor. Others hold similar views: Uzi Landau, a far-right minister and one of only three to publicly oppose the deal, stated that the deal “will be a blow to Israel’s deterrence and the security of Israel.”

The international community seems firmly on Mr. Netanhyu’s side. Some days ago, President Sarkozy of France, where Shalit holds dual citizenship, thanked Egypt for its role in the negotiation and stated that France “warmly welcomes the announcement of an agreement that should lead to the release of Gilad Shalit.” Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon of the UN called the deal a “significant humanitarian breakthrough”.

As for Shalit, he is undoubtedly glad to home, alive and well. In his absence, the former corporal has been promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant, and the government of Israel has committed to paying his salary and medical costs for the foreseeable future. In the words of one army source, “right now we want him to be with his family and for his health conditions to be stable”.

Sebastian Bates, World News Correspondent 


Posted by on October 20, 2011. Filed under World News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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