Israel makes deal for release of kidnapped Israeli soldier

The New York Times reports:

JERUSALEM—Israel and Hamas announced an agreement on Tuesday to exchange more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli soldier held captive in Gaza for five years, a deal brokered by Egypt that seemed likely to shake up Middle East politics at a time when the region is immersed in turmoil.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel told his nation in a live address on television that the soldier, Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit, who was captured in June 2006 at the age of 19, could be home “within days,” ending what has been widely seen in Israel as a national trauma.

Israel is letting, not one hundred Palestinian terrorists out of prison in exchange for Gilad Shalit, not five hundred Palestinian terrorists in exchange for Shalit, but one thousand Palestinian terrorists?

Hell, since the Israelis were so eager to please Hamas, why didn’t they, in exchange for Shalit, also pull down the security fence and allow the right of return? I’m sure Hamas would have liked to have those things as well.

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Sage McLaughlin writes:

What you don’t seem to understand about the deal with Hamas that Israel has struck is that it will serve as a powerful disincentive to further acts of kidnapping and terror. If a single Israeli soldier is worth a thousand Palestinian terrorists, then Hamas is obviously so overmatched that they and Hizballah will never try a stunt like that ever again.

LA writes:

Just to avoid any misunderstanding: Sage was being ironic.

Paul T. writes:

Why do you think they did it?

Presumably Bibi wouldn’t have done the deal if he felt it was going to lose him votes. There have to be a substantial number of Israelis, perhaps a majority, who feel good about this stupefying transaction. I am genuinely curious to know why.

This is speculation, but perhaps the reasoning goes like this: “We’re a country that faces very long odds. When a country like that goes into battle, it has to have very high morale, and this deal does actually boost morale, even though, seen objectively, the release of 1,000 terrorists will surely lead to more Israeli deaths later on. It boosts morale because it affirms how far the country will go to recover its prisoners, and this is comforting to every soldier and to every soldier’s family. This ‘comfort factor’ simply outweighs the objective danger of released terrorists in our minds. Moreover, the world is full of people who speak and act as if Jewish lives are worth less than the lives of others. The math involved in this deal symbolically repudiates that view and affirms the value of Jewish lives as opposed to those of their enemies. It also affirms how little Hamas’ leaders care about getting Palestinian prisoners released, since the leaders held out until their original demand was met—and doubtless would have held out another ten years if necessary.”

I’m not saying that arguments like these actually succeed in justifying the deal. But they might be psychologically persuasive to many Israelis. If not, then I come back to: Why did they do it?

LA replies:

I began reading Barry Rubin about it. He said that most of the prisoners being released were not serious prisoners and would have been released in a year or two anyway. But then, in the entry posted just before that, he said that 450 of the prisoners were serving life sentences. At that point I gave up.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 12, 2011 02:57 PM | Send

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