The Dangerous Precedents of the Shalit Deal

Something has gone awry in the prioritization of values of Israeli society, where imprisonment, in spite its bitterness, is consider a fate more bitter than death, even though only death is irreversible

At the end of the Yom Kippur War and the completion of the prisoner exchange between Israel and Egypt, it emerged that the deal did not include Baruch Mizrahi, a Mossad man caught during an espionage mission in Yemen, from which he was taken to Egypt. In exchange for Mizrahi, Golda Meir proposed to Anwar Saddat "some Egyptians held by Israel," on the basis of a list that Egypt would deliver. The offer also included the transfer of supplies for the Egyptian forces cut off in two places in the Gulf of Suez. It was quickly made sure that no Egyptian spies were being held by Israel. In the absence of something equal to Mizrahi's worth to exchange, then-Mossad head Zvi Zamir recently wrote in his book that it was proposed that "terrorists from Gaza" be released. This was carried out.

The Mizrahi deal stemmed from the disengagement of forces and the overall thawing in Israel-Egypt relations. However, this had not been the first decision by the government of Israel to release saboteurs in exchange for hostages - the precedent was the EL AL flight hijacked to Algiers in the summer of 1968. Just by chance, there were no military personnel on that flight. Major General Ariel Sharon and Colonel Avraham Tamir, who were supposed to be on the flight, had had such a good time at a nightclub in Paris that they delayed their return to Israel by a day and were not on that fateful flight.

These precedents cannot serve to justify the Shalit deal. Following the hijacking to Algiers, Yitzhak Rabin established the rule of the military option, which does not discount a rescue operation if most of the hostages are at risk of harm - at the cost of some of the hostages or rescuers being injured. This was not only the case in Entebbe but also in the case of the number 300 bus. Nor is there a similarity between a broader security agreement with Hamas, which would include a cessation of firing and increasing their arsenal, as was proposed by GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant following Shalit's abduction - and a limited exchange of prisoners. As for the breaking of the taboo on including Israeli Arabs in the exchanges, this suggests that Azmi Bishara can only be sad by not staying to face trial, which would now see him freed.

Ehud Barak abandoned his goal to achieve deterrence, which was at the root of an operation he planned in 1992 (and was foiled by the Tze'elim B disaster ) for the assassination of Saddam Hussein, in order to hold him accountable for the missiles he fired against Israel without an immediate response.

Benjamin Netanyahu, who invented the line of reciprocity - if they give, they will receive - dropped lower to "they will take - they will receive." If members of Hamas or other organizations take Israeli prisoners, Netanyahu promises to give them thousands of prisoners in return.

Following the current deal, there will remain in prison some 6,000-8,000 prisoners. It is enough for a showcase operation - taking over a group of Israelis in an observation position, a community, a delegation, a group of tourists abroad (including in Sinai ) - ) in order to trade them for the entire complement of prisoners. An Israeli hostage will become a trading currency for a trader, especially those of the Persian bazaar, especially the head of the Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani, who may use it as a human shield at the nuclear sites of Iran.

Something has gone awry in the prioritization of values of Israeli society, where imprisonment, in spite its bitterness, is consider a fate more bitter than death, even though only death is irreversible. Because only the certain tougher stance in the policy toward kidnappers and their victims, a sort of national Hannibal protocol, may cause the executors of "trading" attacks to kill instead of kidnap.

The big difficulty in the imprisonment of Shalit was the war crime of preventing the Red Cross from meeting him. This did not deter Netanyahu, nor Ehud Olmert, from holding "proximity talks" with the leader of the war criminals, Ahmed Jabari. Professionally and ethically, there should also have been a differentiation between Netanyahu's emissary and closing the deal, and the person charged with assessing the risks of the deal before the ministers and the public. One person, the head of the Shin Bet security service, cannot fill both roles.

The politicians are concerned about themselves. If they only cared about the well-being of Gilad Shalit, they would curtail their hunger for the photographed assault on him - near the air force base upon his arrival. If the professionals currently on the job - the chief medical officer, Lt. Colonel Dr. Ophir Levy, commander of the unit for Combat Stress, and Lt. Colonel Dr. Eyal Fruchter, head of the IDF's mental health unit - cannot tell them to hold off, then their predecessors should.