Gilad Shalit – A Question of Reciprocity

The Israeli government came out yesterday (Thursday) with a firm decision not to reopen the Gaza border checkposts until Gilad Shalit, abducted by Hamas terrorists on June 25th, 2006 and held hostage ever since, is returned to his home and family. Hamas, backed by Egypt, refuses to link the negotiations for the return of Gilad with the negotiations for a temporary lull or reduction of tension between Israel and Hamas. I, personally, hold no brief with this so-called tahadiya. Just for the record, we are not talking about a ceasefire here, but a reduction of hostilities which will, I suppose, mean that the terrorists will fire "only" a couple of rockets into the western Negev every couple of days or so, rather than 60-80 a day, as it was during the days leading up to Operation Cast Lead. And at the same time, they will be free (de facto if not de jure) to continue smuggling weapons into Gaza in preparation for the next round of fighting. And a next round is inevitable, as long as the terrorist regime that is Hamas continues to rule in Gaza.
But let us return to Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped in a terrorist raid almost 32 months ago. He has been held incommunicado by his captors, so we can’t even be sure he is alive – and in return for his freedom, Hamas is demanding that Israel free a thousand convicted terrorists, among them some of the vilest creatures known to man, whose hands are stained with the blood of countless Israeli civilians, men, women and children – even babies. In short, what we have here is, in many ways, a classic hostage situation.
For many years, Israel refused, on principle, to negotiate with terrorists, but since we called a halt to Operation Cast Lead without finishing the job and destroying Hamas, it seems that this time, there is no alternative. The government is also subject to pressure from within, as the Israeli people are demanding (with justification) that the government do all in its power to bring about Gilad’s release. The only question seems to be, how much are we prepared to pay? For there can be no doubt that releasing 1000 vicious murderers will only lead to further kidnappings and next time, the price will be not 1000 convicted terrorists but 2000, 3000, 4000 – and so on and so on …..
So it seems to me that the time has come to put the pressure on Hamas, or rather, to see to it that their own people start to pressure the Hamas leadership. Gilad has been held incommunicado for 32 months. No Red Cross visits. No visits from family and friends. No legal representation. No-one knows in what conditions he is being held. The convicted murderers whose release is being demanded in return for his freedom, however, had the benefit of legal representation at their trials. They have regular Red Cross visits. They have family visits. They are permitted – like all prisoners in Israeli gaols – to send and receive letters. The Son of Satan, Samir Kuntar, was even permitted to marry while in prison and to enjoy conjugal visits. To compound the absurdity, his wife, as the wife of a prisoner, received financial support from the Israeli government, through the National Insurance Institute!!!  Kuntar was also permitted to study for an Open University degree while in prison.
I think it is high time for some reciprocity in the treatment of prisoners. I suggest that convicted terrorists in Israel be kept incommunicado, in solitary confinement. No conjugal visitation rights. No Red Cross visits. No letters. No university studies. Nothing. Let their families suffer the agony of not knowing what has become of their loved ones, just like Aviva and Noam Shalit, the parents of Gilad. Then talk to me of proportionality. There is none. Gilad Shalit was a nineteen year old boy who had never harmed anyone. The scumbag terrorists being held in Israeli gaols were all convicted, after a fair trial, of the most heinous crimes. If we had any sense, they would have been put to death. According to military law, (under which many of them were tried) it is possible to apply the death penalty in Israel for acts of terrorism resulting in fatalities. But government policy has been not to demand it. Yet another case of killing ourselves with kindness, to my way of thinking. When, oh when will we ever learn?

About Shimona from the Palace

Born in London, the UK, I came on Aliyah in my teens and now live in Jerusalem, where I practice law. I am a firm believer in the words of Albert Schweitzer: "There are two means of refuge from the sorrows of this world - Music and Cats." To that, you can add Literature. To curl up on the sofa with a good book, a cat at one's feet and another one on one's lap, with a classical symphony or concerto in the background - what more can a person ask for?
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