UPDATE: GILAD SHALIT TO BE RELEASED.
The news came last night as we were sitting in the Burger Bar restaurant on the Eilat promenade waiting for our order to come up. First, my wife’s phone started ringing with a friend telling her to turn on the TV because there was news about Gilad Shalit, then the other phones in our family started receiving text messages from friends and updates from news agencies.
Immediately, we asked the restaurant manager to turn the channel on the large screen TV on the wall from the Israel soccer game that was airing to an Israeli news channel. Within minutes, the restaurant was packed with people transfixed with the news that Gilad Shalit is finally coming home.
And the incredibly good news is that he is apparently alive. It has been revealed that Israel and the Shalit family have received additional unrevealed ‘signs’ over the last few years that Gilad is alive. The probability of his being alive is further underlined by the nature of the prisoner swap; note below that more than half of the prisoners will not be released until Gilad is released.
Still, your humble servant will believe Shalit is alive when I see him arrive in Israel.
This was the deal signed in Cairo last Thursday:
Gilad Shalit will be released in exchange for 1027 terrorist prisoners held in Israel.
Phase 1: 450 Palestinian prisoners will be freed–279 of these are serving a life sentence in Israeli prison. 300 of these 450 prisoners will be released to Gaza or deported elsewhere.
At the same time Gilad Shalit will be released to Egypt. Apparently Gilad will then be flown to Germany and then to Israel though there are some reports today that he will be transferred directly to Israel. This is supposed to happen within 6 days.
Phase 2: 577 more Palestinian prisoners will be released.
It appears that Netanyahu’s tough negotiating stance paid off inasmuch as none of the top Palestinian prisoners will be released; Marwan Barghouti, Abdullah Barghouti, Ahmed Saadat, Hassan Salama, Abbas a-Sayed, and Ibrahim Hamed will all remain in prison. Note the word “appears” in the previous sentence; there have been extremely conflicting reports about some of these prisoners this morning–particularly Marwan Barghouti.
All female prisoners will be released including the infamous Amina Mona–who contacted an Israeli teenager on the internet, seduced him with proclamations of love which lured him to Samaria where he was met by Palestinian terrorists and killed. Others to be released include Israeli-Arabs and prisoners who reside in Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Golan Heights.
The ramifications for the Palestinians:
1. Hamas supplants Fatah in terms of Palestinian recognition–the prisoner release has instantly made Fatah’s push at the United Nations sound much more hollow this morning.
2. Hamas will experience a fierce power struggle between those in power and those released from prison.
3. Fatah will experience fierce power struggle between those in power and those released from prison.
The main ramification for Israelis:
Almost certainly, the number of terrorist attacks against Israelis will increase–as they have every time Israel has ever exchanged prisoners. This was part of the argument of those who opposed the release including the Land of Israel party, the National Union Party, and the three cabinet ministers in Netanyahu’s cabinet who opposed the exchange– Lieberman, Landau, and Yaalon.
At the end of the day, your humble servant has to say that while those that oppose the Shalit deal are exactly correct, it is time to bring Gilad Shalit home. I find myself agreeing with Benjamin Netanyahu: one Israeli soldier is worth more than a thousand of the enemy.
Finally, your humble servant applauds the Shalit family for its incredible grace and perseverance–their steadfast love for their son and attempt to get him released have been nothing short of remarkable.