A One-Sided Swap

Gilad Schalit is a young Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas in 2006. He has been held since then at an unknown location in Gaza. Israel’s government has now arranged to free him through a prisoner exchange. While such exchanges have taken place in the past and have always been unfavorable to Israel both quantitatively and qualitatively–the Palestinians involved in such exchanges are convicted criminals, usually terrorists, while the Israelis are hostages–this one is astonishing in its one-sidedness: Israel will release 1,027 Palestinians in order to recover the kidnapped Schalit.

The Associated Press reports:

Under the deal, 1,027 Palestinians—including some behind attacks on Israelis—will released in two stages in return for Sgt. Gilad Schalit, who was captured by Hamas-backed militants in a 2006 cross-border raid.

Israel has been coerced into uneven prisoner exchange deals for decades. This swap, however, is the most lopsided to date. Critics say it encourages more abductions, is unjust to families of those killed and also poses the risk that freed killers will return to violence. …

Among the Palestinian prisoners to be freed are many involved in plotting suicide bombings inside cafe’s and buses as well as shooting attacks that killed hundreds of Israelis and injured many more.

Little is known of the captured Israeli soldier’s condition. Hamas banned the Red Cross from visiting him and have only released a short audio and video statement confirming that he was alive.

Many of those freed will, no doubt, try to commit more terrorist attacks. The AP notes the high standing that terrorists enjoy in Gaza and the West Bank:

In the West Bank and Gaza, families waited in anticipation for the return of their loved ones. The prisoners are highly regarded in Palestinian society.

The official list of Palestinian criminals to be released is expected to be issued in a matter of hours. Hamas, meanwhile, is planning a huge celebration and trumpets the agreement as a great victory:

Hamas is planning huge celebrations in the Gaza Strip to welcome Palestinian prisoners who will be released as part of the prisoner exchange with Israel, Hamas officials said over the weekend. …

The celebrations in the Gaza Strip will include “military marches” by hundreds of gunmen belonging to Hamas’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, and the Popular Resistance Committees, one of the groups that took part in the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.

During the major rally, which will be held in Gaza City, Palestinian gunmen are expected to participate in a show that re-enacts the abduction of Schalit in June 2006.


“This is going to be one of the largest rallies in the Gaza Strip ever,” [a senior Hamas official] said. “People here are so excited that they have already begun decorating the streets and houses with large banners welcoming the released heroes.”

Large tents will also be set up outside the houses of the prisoners to receive well-wishers for five hours a day for the next week.

Ashraf Zayed, a Hamas operative who has been entrusted with preparing plans for the celebrations, said that members of Izzadin Kassam will accompany the released prisoners from the border crossing to Gaza City, where they will be first welcomed by Haniyeh and other senior Hamas figures.

“We have issued a public invitation to our people to participate in this great victory,” Zayed said. “This is undoubtedly a huge achievement for our people.”

Is it going too far to say that terrorism is the only thing at which Palestinians have excelled, and the achievement which their culture most exalts?


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