Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Gilad Finally Home!

I am ecstatic that Gilad has finally been released and is home with his family, thank G-d alive and well.
As well as he could be under the circumstances; Hamas are capable of anything, so the fact that Gilad is alive and in good physical and mental condition is nothing short of a miracle. The symptoms of malnutrition and lack of sunlight is probably the best anyone could have dared hope for.
In the first stage, Gilad was taken to Egypt where he was forced into a torturous interview on Egyptian TV. His sharp breathing and discomfort were there for everyone to see, although it was only later that we found out there were actually armed Hamas men in the room with him. On top of that, the interview was interpreted wrongly, and of course the mainstream media repeated this false translation. When asked how he felt, Gilad replied "I don't feel so well", but this was translated as "I feel good". Asked if he would campaign for the release of other Palestinian prisoners, he said yes, as long as they stop attacking Israel, but was quoted as simply saying he'd be happy for them to go back to their families.
After that Gilad was turned over to Israeli care, where he underwent medical check ups,changed into an army uniform, and was then flown to meet Netanyahu, who took him to bereunited with his family, after which Gilad and his family were then all flown back to their homein the North of Israel.
Hundreds of Palestinian terrorists were released in exchange, some to Egypt, the rest to the West Bank and Gaza, where Hamas announced in a massive ceremony that they would continue trying to capture Israeli soldiers so they could use them to get more terrorists freed. Some media were bizarrely optimistic that the fact that Israel had to communicate with Hamas for the deal was a step forward that means they could negotiate in the future as well (?!).
Despite this, like I said previously, I still believe Israel made the right decision. Leftist critics of the deal though, have a strange logic. They complain about the "message" that one Israeli is worth 1000 Palestinians, and one Guardian reader even said "The Palestinians should have operated on a one to one exchange basis"! Can Israel do nothing right!
Jerusalem Post highlights several Jewish religious perspectives on the issue: "The Mishna prohibits redeeming captives 'for more than their monetary value' to foster 'society’s welfare' [tikkun olam]", whether literally an large ransom sum, or the cost by encouraging future kidnappings.
On the other hand,:
"Maimonides (1135-1204) states: 'There is no commandment as great as the redemption of captives.
"And Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488-1575), in his Shulhan Arukh, notes: 'Each instant that one fails to redeem captives when it is possible to do so, it is as though one has shed blood.'
Meanwhile "Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has argued that in cases such as Shalit’s, the clear and present danger to the life of the hostage outweighs the potential danger to Israelis who might become the future targets of the freed terrorists."
Adrian Blomfield of the Telegraph discusses why so many Israelis supported the deal, despite the security risks and the political cost of bolstering Hamas. He quotes Avi Shavit of Haaretz, that:
"Israel's main asset in human and security terms is the sense of mutual responsibility that its citizens and soldiers feel towards one another. Without this feeling, there is no meaning to our lives here. Without this feeling, we have neither army, security, nor the ability to protect ourselves.

"Rightly or not, Shalit has become a symbol of mutual responsibility. And therefore his forthcoming release will not only be the redemption of a captive and the saving of a life and the return home of a son. Shalit's release will be the realisation of Israeli solidarity."
"This collective willingness to expose ourselves to the risk of a future terrorist attack, if necessary, to secure Shalit’s release speaks volumes about Israelis’ strong sense that we are all in this Zionist project together, in good times and in bad.
It’s not that we are insensitive to the feelings of past terrorist victims’ families and loved ones. Nor are we unaware that many, even most, of those who will be released will return to violent terrorism – and that by paying a ratio of 1 to 1,027 we are encouraging future kidnappings.
It’s just that none of these potential future dangers seems to be able to trump the fact that right now an IDF soldier’s life is being saved."
The past can't be changed and the future can't be predicted with absolute certainty, so I, like many, believe it was most important to focus on the present, and support whatever had to be done to save Gilad. And we did.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Gilad Shalit To Be Freed At Last

Israel has agreed a deal with Hamas to release over 1000 Palestinian prisoners/terrorists, in return for the release of Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive for over five years, in unknown conditions, with barely any contact between him and the outside world.
Anything can still happen, and even now it's not clear what condition Gilad is in, physically and mentally, but I am overwhelmed with joy at the thought of him finally returning to his family. At the same time, though, Israel is paying a high price for his freedom.

As if it's not bad enough that Israel is having to release hundreds of Palestinian terrorists, the Guardian readers can voice only concern for these terrorists, and their portrayal in the media, sympathising with the:
"thousand nameless, faceless Palestinians without identities, histories, or grieving families... where is the coverage of the Palestinian prisoners rotting in Israeli jails... inhuman treatment at Israel's hands".
..."William Hague reckons Shalit’s captivity was 'utterly unjustified'. How else would 1,000 Palestinians have obtained their freedom? When are Palestinians going to get some recognition as people, every bit as important as Israelis?"
Again we're faced with that question: are these people just ignorant, or are they antisemitic? If the Guardian did give these terrorists the coverage that they deserve, the details into what they did, the reasons why they're in jail, then would the Guardian readers reconsider whether these murderers deserve to "obtain their freedom" by holding an innocent boy hostage for five years, and whether they should be viewed "as important as Israelis"? Or would they still have sympathy for the murderers of innocent civilians? I fear it's the latter, but since they wondered about these "nameless Palestinians' identities", here are a few of those who will be released:

  • Abdel Hadi Ghanem, an Islamic Jihad terrorist responsible for the 1989 hijacking of Egged bus 405, driving it over a cliff edge, killing 16 Israelis.
  • Fahad Schludi, a terror operative who took part in the 1993 abduction and murder of IDF soldier Yaron Chen.
  • Bassam Abu Sneina and Riyad Asila, who are serving a life sentence for the 1998 murder of yeshiva student Haim Kerman.
  • Nael al-Barghouthi, the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1978, for murdering an Israeli security officer.
  • Yehiya As-Sinwar, who was one of the founders of Hamas’ security forces in Gaza and was involved in the abduction and murder of IDF soldier Nachshon Wachsman. He is also the brother of one of the terrorists involved in Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping.
  • Jihad Yarmur, who was convicted of Nachshon Wachsman’s murder.
  • Ahmed Najar, former head of the Silwad terror cell, which killed 3 Israelis in six shooting attacks during the al-Aqsa Intifada.
  • Mohammed Hamada, who was convicted of planning a rocket attack on Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.
  • Ruhi Musteha, a senior operative with Hamas’ military wing.
  • Husam Badran, the former head of Hamas’ military wing in the West Bank, who orchestrated the deadly terror attacks at the Tel Aviv Dolphinarium in 2001, at the Park Hotel in Netanya in 2002 (which killed 30) and at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001 (which killed 15).
  • Muhammad Duglas, who was implicated in the Sbarro attack, and is serving 15 consecutive life sentences for the murder of 19 Israelis.
  • Amina Mona, a young woman who lured a lovestruck Israeli teenage boy by the name of Ophir Rahum to a Palestinian city over the Internet, only to have him killed by waiting terrorists.
  • Update: Some more terrorists who shouldn't be released: Walid Anajas, from Ramallah, a commander of Hamas' armed wing, the Qassam Brigades. He was given 36 life terms in 2002 for his involvement in a number of suicide bombings, including that of a Jerusalem cafe in 2002, in which 12 people lost their lives.
  • Nasser Yataima, who planned a suicide bombing which killed 30 people as they were about to celebrate the Passover festival at a hotel in March 2002, was sentenced to 29 life terms.
  • Khamis Zaki Aqel, a member of the Qassam Brigades, which carried out a string of suicide bombings and other attacks, was arrested in 1992 and sentenced to 21 life terms. It was not immediately clear for which crime he was sentenced.
  • Majdi Muhammed Amr, arrested in 1993, is serving 19 life sentences after being found guilty of coordinating the work of suicide bombers, including one who blew up a bus in the northern city of Haifa in March 2003, killing 17 people. [He also murdered David Cohen in a drive-by shooting in July 2001.]
  • Maedh Abu Sharakh was also sentenced to 19 life terms for his role in planning the Haifa bus bombing.
I have also read that other terrorists being released are those who with their bare hands lynched and murdered two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah in 2000, an incident so horrific, that leaves me feeling as sick and shaken by the memory of it as I felt when I watched the tv footage all those years ago, as well as desperately wanting never to have to remember or acknowledge it, that I could barely bring myself to type this paragraph. If anyone doesn't remember or know about that attack, if you have the stomach for it, please google it, it's probably even on youtube, but I can't and won't look for links.
Probably most of those being released feel no regret, and why would they when they're rewarded so much for their actions by their leaders - the Palestinian leaders who the world thinks Israel should reward for their incitement with land and a state.
But despite all of this, I still believe Israel is making the right decision. After all, there is no other choice. Perhaps mistakes were made in the past and opportunities wasted, but at this moment, we have to simply take whatever we can get, do whatever we can to free Gilad and not leave him languishing any longer.
As a plus side, some top Palestinian terrorists, who Hamas campaigned for in previous talks, are not being released:
  • Marwan Barghouti who was sentenced to five life sentences for his role in the murders of Israelis during the al-Aksa intifada
  • Abdullah Barghouti who is serving out 67 consecutive life terms for building the bombs that murdered 66 people
  • Ahmed Saadat who headed the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and was responsible for the assassination of Israeli minister Rehavam Ze'evi
  • Hassan Salama, a Hamas leader who was convicted of murdering 67 Israeli citizens
  • Abbas a-Sayed, mastermind of the Park Hotel suicide bombing in which 30 Israelis were killed on the eve of Passover 2002
  • Ibrahim Hamed, who was found guilty of involvement in terrorist attacks that led to the death of 82 Israelis
It hardly even feels a victory, looking back at all the carnage and trauma they caused.
This is the most miserable, bittersweet I've ever felt writing a post, and it's not even over yet. Please G-d Gilad should be home with his family soon, alive and well, and every terrorist who ever caused pain and suffering to innocent people should feel a thousand times more what their victims felt.