More than 500 Palestinian prisoners are free today. Released by Israel. The second phase of a release agreed to in return for abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
There were those who criticized the deal that resulted in the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Shalit was returned to the Israelis. But in exchange, Israel had to agree to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.
There were those who argued that while they were overjoyed that this son of Israel was returned home, the deal put other soldiers in jeopardy.
Now word from Saudi Arabia that supports that concern. A Saudi royal is offering a $1 million bounty for the capture of another Israeli soldier, in the hopes that even more Palestinian prisoners may be released.
By RONN TOROSSIAN
Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists was freed last week. But, before Shalit was freed, Egyptian state TV interviewed him exclusively – with the reporter alongside an Egyptian flag in front of him and with a Hamas terrorist behind him wearing a black face mask, a green headband of the Qassam brigades (Hamas’ military wing). Did one think he agreed to, or actually wanted to do this interview? As you’ll read, The Daily Telegraph thinks these facts aren’t relevant.
Prior to being allowed to speak with his family, seek medical attention or begin to comprehend being released from his dungeon, he sat for a 12-minute interviewed, breathed heavily and was anxious. He was forced to answer questions such as: “During all that time of captivity, you did just one video to tell the world and your family that you’re alive. Why just once? Why didn’t it happen again?” (Did one think he was allowed to grant interviews of his choice while terrorists controlled him?)
The reporter asked him what “lessons” he learned in captivity and other offensive, absurd and inappropriate questions.
Israeli TV anchor Yonit Levy called the interview “borderline torture” and Channel 10 commentator and presenter Raviv Drucker said her questions would “likely win the title of the stupidest questions of the past 100 years.” It was low, unethical and awful.
And now another journalist, Mary Ridell a columnist and political blogger for The Daily Telegraph, is reporting the Shalit interview as if it was an actual sit-down interview he agreed to and thought of – not one with a man who’s just emerged from five years in a dungeon at the hands of terrorists from which he had been removed only minutes before (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/maryriddell/100111170/gilad-shalit-calls-for-peace-israel-should-listen/ ).
Ridell cites the Shalit interview in stating: “Gilad Shalit has been a fine ambassador for peace and for Israel. His government should follow suit. In calling for peace, Shalit made the boldest gesture possible. The Hamas regime may be loathsome. But the Netanyahu government, which bears the responsibility of an advanced democracy, also has a shameful record in its treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank. The blood of the Gazans killed in Operation Cast Lead is a stain on the name of Israel.”
Simply amazing. A political blogger ignoring the fact that this was a tortured man doing a forced interview.
One often wonders when reading the media about Israel if it’s hypocrisy or hatred. Simply amazing, the double standard which Israel faces – the only country in the world whose existence the media questions.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, one of the 25 largest PR firms in the U.S. and author of the just released PR book “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations” which is available for purchase at: http://www.amazon.com/Immediate-Release-Deliver-Game-Changing-Relations/dp/1936661160
Not everyone believes that swapping more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for one Israel soldier was such a good thing.
While critics are universal in expressing happiness that Gilad Shalit is safely home, they worry that more Israelis may be abducted in the future in order to exact the release of even more imprisoned terrorists.
Now, joining that chorus, is Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who tells Israel Hayom, “We need a new policy to handle abductions.”
JERUSALEM – Many Israeli families reacted to news of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange with a mix of joy and sadness. Joy because a young man whom the entire nation grieved for is being returend to his family after more than five years in captivity. Sadness because the price of Gilad’s freedom is the release of those who killed their own loved ones.
A large number of bereaved families petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court on Monday to postpone the Shalit exchange in order to remove some of the more “heavy” terrorists from the list of those being freed.
For instance, as part of the deal, Israel will free Ahlam Tamimi, a female terrorist who was the driver for the suicide bomber who killed 15 people and wounded 130 others at a pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem in 2001.
Also on the list is Khalil Muhammad Abu Ulbah, who in 2001 used his Egged passenger bus to run down and kill eight people. And the terrorists who opened fire on a bus stop in 2005, killing Kinneret Mandel, Matat Rosenfeld-Edler and 14 year-old Oz Ben-Meir. And the terrorist sniper who killed chaya Rund’s son, Erez, while he was driving in Samaria in 2002. And Abed Alaziz Salaha, whose face has become famous as the young man who joyously waved his bloody hands out the window of a Ramallah police station in 2000 after participating in the extremely brutal lynch of two Israeli men.
This is but a small sampling of the hundreds of terrorists with blood on their hands that were exchanged for Shalit.
Despite the difficulty of accepting such a deal, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that at it could not interfere with the exchange at such a late hour, lest it put Gilad’s life in danger.
Israeli lawmaker Michael Ben-Ari lamented the decision and the precedent it sets, telling The Jerusalem Post:
“Today every Arab child knows they can murder 20 or 30 Jews and tomorrow they will go free. Israel is sending the message that killing Jews is permissible.”
Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu tried to assuage the pain of the bereaved families, reminding them that he, too, had lost a loved one (his brother Yoni) in battle against Israel’s enemies.
“I write to you with a heavy heart,” Netanyahu wrote in an open letter to the families of terror victims. “I understand and know your pain. I know that you have a heavy heart, that your wounds have been opened anew these past days; that your thoughts are not at ease.”
Netanyahu went on to say that he understands the difficulty in coming to grips with the fact that “the evil people who perpetrated the appalling crimes against your loved ones will not pay the full price that they deserve.”
Meir Indor of the Almagor Terror victims’ organization was not impressed, and urged Netanyahu not to take part in any celebratory events, since for far too many Israelis this is a day of happiness for the Shalit family mixed with their own despair.
“For many Israelis this is a second day of mourning and some see it as a day of submission,” wrote Indor in a letter to Netanyahu. “Forget the artificial victory festivals that you’re trying to create. There is no victory here.”
Meanwhile, celebrations to welcome home the killers were already underway in Gaza, the so-called “West Bank” and Israeli Arab towns.
JERUSALEM – Palestinian terror group and elected political party Hamas likes the way things worked out in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange. Hamas’ popularity is set to soar after it managed to secure the release of over 1,000 blood-soaked terrorists from Israeli jails in exchange for a single Israeli hostage.
With that kind of market value, it is no wonder Hamas is already planning its next abduction.
Gilad Shalit “will not be the last soldier kidnapped by Hamas,” announced group spokesman Abu Obaida, noting that there are still thousands more Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails that must be freed.
“The one and only solution is…more abduction of Israeli soldiers and settlers,” Khalil al-Hayya, a Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament, told the Al Quds satellite network.
Many Israeli security officials have noted that while it is a good thing to return Gilad Shalit to his family, Israel is likely to again find itself in this situation sooner rather than later, as Palestinian terror groups increasingly view the abduction of Israelis as an imperative part of their nationalist movement.
By RYAN JONES
JERUSALEM – Israel today made the extremely difficult move of releasing over 1,000 convicted terrorists, hundreds of whom had directly participated in the murder of Israelis. It did so to win the freedom of a single soldier who has occupied the hearts and minds of his countrymen since being abducted over five years ago.
But it’s not the release of convicted killers that is the true price of Gilad Shalit’s freedom. The true price is the blood those terrorists will go on to spill as they enthusiastically return to their previous endeavors.
Over the past 30 years, Israel has set free thousands of jailed terrorists in prisoner exchanges and in goodwill gestures toward its ostensible peace partners in the Palestinian Authority. Those freed terrorists have gone on to kill over 180 Israelis, people who today may still be alive if Israel had only kept their killers behind bars. In the Shalit deal, Israel is freeing more terrorists with “blood on their hands” than ever before.
And Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has already promised that those freed terrorists will “return to the struggle.”
Security officials have also noted that many soldiers and police officers were killed or wounded over the years in order to get most of those terrorists behind bars. Their blood is also part of the payment for Shalit.
All this is not to say the deal is wrong, necessarily. To be sure, this is an impossible situation. Every Israeli wants Gilad to come home, and every Israeli can literally feel the pain the Shalit family has endured for the past five years, because there is no family in this nation that has not been personally affected by terrorism or war.
It is a testament to the tremendous value Israel places on human life that it would conduct such a deal. But it is also a testament to enormous risks Israel is forced to regularly take with the security of its citizens.
JERUSALAM – After more than five years of being held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Gilad Shalit is home with his family in Israel.
His release came at a steep price, with Israel freeing more than 1,000 Palestinian terrorists, many with “blood on their hands.” Nevertheless, there were not many dry eyes in Israel on Tuesday as the nation watched the touching scene of Gilad embracing his father, Noam Shalit, who has labored tirelessly on the international stage on behalf of his son.
After being transferred to the Egyptian Sinai early Tuesday morning, Shalit crossed into southern Israel via the Kerem Shalom border crossing. He was checked there by Israeli army doctors who declared him to be in good health.
From there Shalit was flown to Tel Nof Air Force Base to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other government and military leaders, as well as his anxiously waiting parents.
Later in the day, the family was returned to their home in Mitzpe Hila in northern Israel.
By SOL LACHMAN
Israeli authorities have released a list of 477 prisoners to be exchanged for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Concurrent with the first release of 27 female prisoners, Hamas will turn Shalit over to the Red Cross. As soon as he is confirmed alive and safe in Israeli hands, the remaining 450 male prisoners will be released.
This will be a boost for the Netanyahu government with the center and the left. Political hardliners have their doubts about the wisdom of such an exchange. The ultra-Orthodox Haredi will applaud the move because redeeming of captives and saving the life of a fellow Jew, even at a relatively high cost, is a scriptural commandment.
The Israelis have taken some steps to ensure that the released prisoners do not return to their path of terror.
According to al-Jazeera, the terms of the Gilad Shalit exchange include some 200 prisoners who will be allowed to go home in Judea-Samaria, and will be loosely monitored but allowed free movement. Some other prisoners will be released under tighter Israeli security arrangements. They will be restricted to their home village and close surrounding areas and will have to check in with the Israelis monthly.
Another 145 prisoners will be deported to Gaza or abroad. For those originally from Gaza it will mean a homecoming, for the others it is an actual deportation. Some of those will be allowed to return after three years. A spokesperson for the Palestine Authority denies any responsibility for monitoring any released prisoners.
The big loser in all of this is PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
From the lofty height of public adulation received as a result of his United Nations speech a few short weeks ago, Abbas is now seen as ineffectual and ineffective. For all the speech produced, now that the cheers have died away, was a request that the Security Council set up a committee to study the matter of Palestinian independence. Further Abbas and the PA have refused to negotiate with the Israelis.
From the Palestinian point of view, it is the Israelis who are recalcitrant and Abbas has failed to get them to agree to his conditions and come to the bargaining table. Abbas is now seen as a temporizer who has accomplished nothing tangible.
Hamas, on the other hand, who have confronted Israel nearly daily with a barrage of rockets from Gaza, who have stated clearly there will be no negotiation with Israel ever, have succeeded in the major diplomatic coup of having Israel release 477 for one. The green Hamas flag is flying over the Arab villages of Judea and Samaria as the people celebrate the return of prisoners, some of whom have been absent for some 35 years.
We have stated many times before that Abbas and the PA, indeed the entire Oslo process, are creatures of the Israelis and the Americans, desperate to find a peace partner where none exists. The Israeli Army is the main security prop to the PA and Abbas and the dollars and Euros sent by the USA and Europe respectively are all that hold up the PA financially.
How long will it be before this figment of smoke-and-mirrors dissipates in the face of Hamas? How long will it be before Abbas decides, like Arafat before him, that the pleasures of Paris fueled by the Swiss bank account filled with money stolen from humanitarian projects are more survivable than the bleak compound in Ramallah?
All of Israel is thrilled at the return of Gilad Shalit who was 19 when kidnapped and is now 25. It remains to be seen what kind of shape he is in physically and mentally having endured more than five years of captivity in isolation.
By PETER PATON
The imminent release of Gilad Schalit for the exchange of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, none of whom are high value assets, is a victory for every human norm, the Shalit family themselves who have been campaigning vigorously for over five years for their son’s release from his Hamas captors and for everyone else who have praying and working towards his liberation.
Political kudos must go the Egyptians who brokered the deal between Israel’s Shin Bet and Hamas negotiators and the American efforts which was led by Leon Panetta. The U.S. defense secretary flew in to Israel last week to oversee the the deal Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal struck with Israel in the framework of an accord with the United States for moving his Hamas bureau and command centers out of Damascus.
The upshot of all of this, especially for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will probably mean a marked boost in his popularity levels at home in Israel from a grateful and generous Israeli public and would make Bibi and the Likud Party odds on favorites to be re-elected in next year’s domestic elections.
Peter Paton is an international PR and strategic adviser.