Since Gilad Shalit was abducted by the Palestinians who attacked the Kerem Shalom outpost, killing two of his tank-mates and injuring others, Gilad’s father, Noam, has been available to the media. He has proven himself to be a calm and collected individual who is very clear in his faith in Israel, Zionism, the IDF and the Israeli leadership. He is fully versed in the nature of previous kidnappings and dealings of Israel with the Arabs who have learned that for one Israeli soldier Israel will often trade hundreds and even thousands of prisoners. Obviously this is what Gilad’s abductors were counting on.
Olmert has a problem in that he would be strengthening Hamas by giving in to their demands. The IDF seriously screwed up this time with prior intelligence indicating an attack was pending in this particular area and even the manner of attack – tunnels and all. Obviously, Noam Shalit must be torn inside about this matter. His son’s life is at stake, and yet, it is clear that this is a much broader issue for Israel and its security.
Today, Noam Shalit responded to a question by answering that his son’s “back was too narrow” for Israel to use him as its “force” for deterrence against Palestinian abductions and future attacks. He said these issues should have been addressed before the attack and not now.
Shalit was responding to comments made by Construction and Housing Minister Meir Sheetrit, who said Israel must restore its level of deterrence.
“Israel should have done that before the attack, when there was intelligence on tunnels being dug in the region. Despite this, we will not rush to conclusions and wait for the findings of the Eiland Commission [established to investigate the Kerem Shalom attack],” Shalit said.
He is right of course.
And he has changed my mind. Israel should trade prisoners for Shalit. It is the moral thing to do here. The IDF was not at its best when he was abducted and it was not his fault that he was abducted. Contrary to the use of the term terrorism to describe this attack, although it was conducted by members of a terror group, this was an unprovoked attack on a military target. As such, it is about as close to legitimate as we are going to see from the Palestinians. If they are fighting soldiers, it’s not the same as targeting civilians. In this case, the attack avoided civilians and targeted Israeli soldiers. They got one and now it’s time for Israel to pay up.
People are saying, probably justly, that this may encourage further kidnappings and they would be right. On the other hand, this is not the first time the Palestinians have tried this tactic and even if Israel does not trade for him, this will not be the last. In fact, they are more likely to kill than keep alive their victims – who are usually civilians.
Israel does have a history of trading prisoners for abducted Israelis and even did so in the case of Elhanan Tenenbaum who may have been captured by Hizbullah while traveling to commit a crime. Israel traded for him, so how could they not trade for a soldier who did nothing wrong?
Also, Israel has always promised its soldiers that it will care for them and do everything in its power to release them from their captors in the event of capture. What kind of message is being sent to Israel’s soldiers if they believe they are dead men if captured by the enemy?
Noam Shalit lost his twin brother in the ’73 War. He is a loyal and true Zionist; an obviously good man with a sense of commitment and love for Israel. Trade prisoners for his son and bring his son home. That is the right thing to do here.
By the way, Israel has just captured the alleged murderers of the boy, Eliyahu Asheri, who was kidnapped and killed right away by these scum.