Shalit Release No Cause for Celebrations

How we wish that the joy we feel with Gilad Shalit’s return home will not be marred by the sorrows of tomorrow; but we did not need the latest Hamas pronouncements that they intend to carry out further abductions to remind us of the dangers we face.

Moshe Arens
Moshe Arens
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Moshe Arens
Moshe Arens

The return of Gilad Shalit from five years in captivity brings unbounded joy to his family and to all Israelis who accompanied the travails of the Shalit family all these years. And to Gilad Shalit it is more than a homecoming, it is freedom. But is it a cause for celebrations for Israel?

On Tuesday, the day of Gilad's exchange for over 1,000 terrorists convicted of hundreds of murders, the balance was all in favor of the deal struck by our government. One soldier saved and so far seemingly no collateral damage. But on the days that will follow? When the day arrives, as it surely will, that an Israeli is killed by one of the released terrorists or somebody sent by him?

That day we could still say the deal was an even bet - one life saved for one life lost. But thereafter, as terrorist acts follow, the view of the Faustian bargain struck by our government - Gilad Shalit for a thousand terrorists - will begin to change. Until such time, and that will come as well, that we cease to connect the future murders to that Tuesday when Gilad Shalit returned home to his jubilant family. Until we stop counting and connecting the dots. Until we don't want to be reminded where it all started.

And maybe all that is no more than dark forebodings. After all, the head of the security services is reported to have told the government that the security services will know how to "contain" the potential danger from the terrorists to be released. Does that mean that we have seen the end of acts of terror perpetrated against Israelis? Or that such acts if committed in the future will not be perpetrated by anyone who was released on Tuesday? Can anyone take responsibility for such a prediction? And can the government take a decision based on such a prediction?

How we wish that the joy we feel with Gilad Shalit's return home will not be marred by the sorrows of tomorrow. But we did not need the latest Hamas pronouncements that they intend to carry out further abductions to remind us of the dangers we face. The thousand-to-one exchange ratio established by the deal struck in Cairo for Gilad Shalit's release establishes a powerful incentive for more such acts. It is a temptation they will not be able to resist. To be optimistic under these circumstances borders on the foolhardy.

So now that the deal has been struck we must rely on the IDF and the security services to do their utmost to prevent a recurrence of what happened to Gilad Shalit. It is the prime minister and the government that carry the ultimate responsibility on their shoulders for the decision to make the deal with Hamas, even if the decision was based on the backing of the experts.

Nevertheless, the senior personnel of the IDF and the security services who provided the backing for the decision cannot evade their share of the responsibility. Their competence will be tested in the weeks and months to come.

The time has now come to explain to the public how it was that we could not discover the location where Gilad Shalit was being held for five years. And why finding him and freeing him was not one of the aims of the "Cast Lead" operation. Hamas spokesmen are already boasting of the incompetence displayed by the IDF and the security services in this case. We have a right to know if there is truth in these boasts.

After welcoming Gilad Shalit we must make every effort to assure that terrorists will not again succeed to abduct Israelis, and the mega-exchange deal that freed Gilad Shalit will be the last such deal made by any Israeli government. It is not a time for celebrations.

Israelis from all over the country celebrating the arrival of Shalit’s motorcade at Mitzpeh Hila, October 18, 2011.Credit: AFP



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