We have written critically about Israel’s decision to release more than 1,000 Palestinian criminals, many of them terrorist mass murderers, in order to procure the freedom of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. As happy as one must be to see Mr. Shalit returned home after five years as a hostage, one equally must blanch at the extraordinary price that was paid. Today we witnessed the sickening spectacle of terrorists being cheered by throngs of Palestinians–not on the theory that they are innocent of the crimes of which they were convicted, but on the contrary, precisely because they proudly acknowledge the murders they have organized and committed. Is there any other society on Earth where this could happen?
Hamas, which kidnapped Shalit and held him in a secret location in Gaza, hailed the prisoner exchange as a triumph:
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the return of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit on Tuesday a strategic turning point in Hamas’s struggle against Israel.
“This is a strategic turning point in our struggle against the Zionist enemy,” Haniyeh said at a celebration in Gaza on Tuesday evening, adding “it was thanks to our resistance that we were able to release the land and the people.”
I’m afraid he may be right. Here, Haniyeh celebrates with one of the released terrorists:
A national holiday was declared in Gaza, and schools were closed. The celebration was universal:
Patriotic songs blared from loudspeakers as prisoners arrived to a heroes’ welcome at the Rafah crossing. Some kissed the soil as they arrived. Some were carried on the shoulders of happy relatives. Women ululated and men chanted Allahu akbar.
It is predictable that this success will encourage more hostage-taking. In fact, that is exactly what Hamas promised:
Hamas and other Gaza militant groups have vowed to seize more Israeli hostages for exchange until all 5,000 Palestinians still in Israeli prisons are released.
“The rest of the prisoners must be released because if they are not released in a normal way they will be released in other ways,” said Hamas deputy leader Abu Marzouk.
Haniyeh reinforced that point:
[Haniyeh] further hailed Hamas’ negotiations team and said the deal represented “a new model of Palestinian negotiations.”
Yes, I’ll bet it does.
In this photo, you can see the size of the celebratory crowd in Gaza:
Here, one of the freed terrorists is carried about on the shoulders of his adoring countrymen. Who is he? Khalil Abu Alba. His heroic act was deliberately driving a bus into a crowd of Israelis, killing 8 people.
Israelis overwhelmingly favored the Shalit exchange for humanitarian reasons which are entirely understandable, but I am afraid that they one day they will have reason to regret turning loose hundreds of emboldened terrorists and strengthening the hand of Hamas.