UPDATE: SOUTHERN ISRAEL REMAINS UNDER ASSAULT FROM PALESTINIAN HAMAS TERRORISTS IN GAZA WITH ROCKET SIRENS HEARD IN THE SOUTH ASHKELON REGION LAST NIGHT. TERRORIST ROCKET STRIKES CONTINUE TO BE UNREPORTED BY THE GOVERNMENT.
In the face of polls showing that over 90% of Israelis approve of the deal that Netanyahu has made for Gilad’s release, it is not surprising that the anti-Netanyahu Israeli media has a plethora of op-eds this morning harshly criticizing the government’s decision with titles such as: “Prisoner Swap: Shalit Deal Wrong Move” and “Ronsky: Shalit Should Have Been Declared Dead”. This criticism will become even harsher in the weeks ahead.
By the way, these op-eds are coming from the same media that has endlessly blamed Netanyahu for not securing Gilad’s release.
The simple fact is that the government could not miss the opportunity to make a deal with Hamas. Why? The answer can be given in two words: Ron Arad.
The horrific episode of Ron Arad is so seared into the Israeli consciousness that it is inconceivable that another Israeli soldier would be left to languish or die. Every Israeli knows the story (see previous blog) of how Arad was shot down, captured by Amal forces in Lebanon, bought by Hezbollah–and after 8 years in captivity disappeared into an Iranian hellhole.
So desperate did Israel become for any information concerning Arad that in the year 2000, fifty two Lebanese and Palestinian terrorists were apparently released secretly in return for receiving Arad’s personal weapon, an Armalite AR-7. Even as late as 2008, Israel was still receiving dribbles of information about Arad from Hezbollah–in return for prisoner releases. In the end Israel determined that Arad was dead, and all of the information received came to naught with Hezbollah head Nasrallah dissembling that even he did not know where Arad’s body was.
Looking back on Arad’s captivity and subsequent death, every Israeli sees an agony of missed opportunities to have brought him home alive. It is an agony that no one here is prepared to endure again.
As mentioned yesterday, your humble servant, as well as everyone in Israel, fully expects that terrorism will sharply increase and that Hamas will attempt to kidnap more Israeli soldiers (which they are already announcing that they plan to do). However, these are prices we are willing to pay to get Gilad Shalit home.