Israel’s Tough Call on Gilad Shalit

Bibi embraces his symbol of peace, Gilad Shalit


by Ryan “The Sherms” Sherman


The moral dilemma and, particularly, the awful precedent spawned by trading 1,000 terrorists for one live soldier is obvious. So obvious that I was originally against this swap (though not as against it as I was against the 2008 swap of 5 living Hezbollah terrorists, including a convicted child murderer, for two deceased soldiers).

Then I had a conversation with my Rabbi about it and by the time it was over — and despite the overwhelming frustration and anger brought on by the Hero’s Welcome these Palestinian terrorists have and will receive in Gaza  — I realized that this was probably the right move for the following reasons:


1. Bad Precedent issue

Maybe this isn’t as much of an issue as we fear. At least that is what Netanyahu and the Knesset is thinking.

Specifically, Isreal is so confident in it’s defense systems that it chalks up the kidnapping of this soldier to a fluke, and something that shouldn’t happen again. It’s a similar argument to the counter-argument to the “if we do x they’ll hate us” argument. No, they already hate us.

Similarly, Israel believes that Hamas already was trying as hard as it could to kidnap Israeli soldiers and hasn’t succeeded in five years.

So it’s two-fold:

(a) Israel is confident that it can avoid kidnappings, and
(b) Hamas and other Palestinian and Arab terrorist organizations already had a major desire to kidnap Israeli soldiers so doing (or not doing) this deal isn’t really creating much of an additional incentive.


2. Showing the World that Israel Values Life

This “trade” shows the worlld that Israel has a high-degree of respect for its citizens and military personel’s lives, and makes good on it’s promise to leave no soldier behind. If the world wasn’t in large part anti-Israel (and, of course, anti-Semitic) and thus actually paid attention to the moral highground Israel has almost always taken (relax, I said “almost”), I’d think this would score some points for Israel in the Morality/Respect for Human Life departments.

However, the world generally shows a disprortionately small amount of sympathy for Israel and, therefore, will probably not recognize (or even realize) Israel’s moral highground here. So, with that said, I don’t give too much weight to this “benefit” of making the deal.

The Shalit family knows they got value with the trade


3. Mom and Dad

This perhaps should have been #1. The peace of mind and relief this trade gives to Shalit’s parents is obviously immeasurable.

“But we can’t sacrifice the security of an entire nation for one soldier and his parents!” This is true, but it’s not just about this one Mom and Dad. It’s about (almost) every Israeli parent that will one day watch their young son or daughter leave home and enter the Israeli Defense Forces. These millions of Moms and Dads now know that Israel will not leave their kids behind.

This is very positive when it comes to national pride and goodwill.


4. The IDF

Just like this shows the Moms and Dads that Israel has their kids’ backs, it shows the soldiers — themselves — the level of commitment and respect for their lives Israel has for them.

Hope is a soldier’s best friend, and knowing that someone will let nothing stand in the way of bringing you home has to be comforting. I’m pretty sure if I were a member of the IDF I’d be pleased about this.


In conclusion, this was a beyond-difficult decision for Israel but, given the national attention and outcry, and the fact that Israel is obviously at least somewhat less worried about the “precedent” fear than I was (and in a way still am), I believe Israel made the right choice.

That said, what happens if Hamas is able to kidnap another Israeli soldier (or citizen)?

Was there some unwritten understanding that if they try this again the majority of Gaza gets bombed back to the stone ages?

Time will tell if the results of the decision are as positive as the intentions.



I have agonized over, and wavered on this issue over the past few weeks, and today has proved to be no different.  Since writing this article this morning I’ve thought and read more about this issue and — at this particular hour (10:00pm EST) — I find myself again leaning towards the side that was/is against this trade for the following reasons:

A. According to Almagor, an Israeli group representing victims of Palestinian terrorism (and who unsuccessfully petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to halt the exchange), the exchange is a surrender to terrorism which will lead to future attacks.  In 2007, Almagor released findings of study revealing that at least 173 Israelis killed in attacks in the previous five years were the victims of terrorists who had been previously freed from Israeli jails in deals relating to the peace process.
If Almagor is correct Israel will, in all probability, suffer additional civilian casualties, especially given the barbarians that Israel is releasing  Palestinians who perpetrated some of the deadliest terrorist attacks committed in Israel over the past dozen years. A list including:

Alham Tamimi, who disguised herself as a Jewish tourist as she delivered a suicide bomber to a busy pizzeria in central Jerusalem. Sixteen people, ranging in age from 63 to two years old, were killed in the Aug. 9, 2001 bombing. Two were U.S. citizens. Tamimi has declared herself to be unrepentant…

Khalil Abu Alba, who deliberately drove a bus into a crowd of Israelis, killing 8 people….

Nasser Iteima, who was responsible for the suicide bombing of a Netanya hotel during a Passover seder in 2002. Thirty people, most of them elderly, were killed in that attack…

Walid Anajas, who was serving 36 life sentences for deaths resulting from two suicide bombings in 2002 – one at a restaurant very close to the prime minister’s residence…

…and Ibrahim Younis, the planner of a 2003 suicide bombing in a Jerusalem coffee shop. The seven victims included a doctor and his 20 year-old daughter, celebrating her wedding the following day. The café’s 22 year-old security guard, who tried to prevent the suicide bomber from entering, was also killed.

All in all, of the 477 in the first group which has already been released, 285 were convicted of crimes so serious they were sentenced to life imprisonment. Therefore, aside from the disgrace of humanity that is the hero’s welcome these murders have and/or will receive in Gaza, the impending danger brought on by these murders in the months and years to come weighs heavily against the prisoner exchange.

B.  In the original article, above, I speculated that “maybe [the Bad Precedent issue] isn’t as much of an issue as we fear.”  Well, on the other hand, MAYBE IT IS. Maybe Hamas — despite already being dead-set on the destruction of Israel — will be further emboldened and empowered to try to kidnap more Israeli soldiers/civilians.  Just because “they already hate us” doesn’t mean that this won’t add extra fuel to their fire.  (Of course, and as set forth above, the counter-argument to this is that they already are overflowing with hate and murderous ambitions and, thus, we can’t fuel their fire more than it’s already fueled).

At the very least it will add fuel to their leadership’s rhetoric.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called the exchange a strategic turning point in Hamas’s struggle against Israel.  “This is a strategic turning point in our struggle against the Zionist enemy….it was thanks to our resistance that we were able to release the land and the people,” said Haniyeh.

More specifically, Hamas and other Gaza militant groups have explicitly vowed to seize more Israeli hostages for exchange until all 5,000 Palestinians still in Israeli prisons are released.  As stated by Hamas deputy leader Abu Marzouk, “the rest of the prisoners must be released because if they are not released in a normal way they will be released in other ways”.

In conclusion (again), as this postscript is being published murderers are celebrated as heroes on the streets of Gaza while, at the same time, Gilad Shalit’s family rejoices in his company after their (and his) five-year nightmare finally ended.

So, did Israel make the right decision?  At this hour I cannot say, nor will I be able to conclusively say anytime soon, or perhaps ever.  All I do know is that reasons both for and against this prisoner exchange are so overwhelming that I can’t imagine having to make that call.


  1. Great Article. I never thought of the fact the enemy is already trying as hard as they can to capture them already so this will not cause an increase in kidnapped soldiers.

    The only thing I don’t understand was you mentioned people don’t like Jews? Who? I feel like everyone loves jews around the world. Think about it, Adam Sandler’s Hannukah song was a hit around the world. I am pretty sure it was the number one single in the middle east when it came out.

  2. On a side note, does Galid not remind everyone else of Chris Evan’s character in Captain America before he gets jacked. I mean if Israel can turn this nerd alert into a bad ass, they are doing something right in their training. Although, considering he was the only one to be captured they might want all their future male soldiers to be over 100 pounds.

  3. Good job on a well written and thought provoking article. Your balance is excellent and points are well thought out and articulated.

    Israel doesn’t need Galit to be like Captain America, he could be The Zohan which if you think about is a much better hero. He gets laid! Captain America took the plunge without polishing his horn but the Zohan… Yes, you cannot deny the Zohan!!

  4. Problem with the Already Trying As Hard As They Can To Kidnap Israeli Soldiers So This Won’t Provoke An Increase is that it’s only somewhat (albiet perhaps in large part) true. We know they already want to kidnap Israeli soldiers but how can this not (at least slightly) raise the stakes?

    That said, it’s not only about their desire but, also, their ability. As I wrote, maybe the IDF and the Israeli government is justified in it’s confidence that no more soldiers will get kidnapped, notwithstanding any heightened efforts by Hamas.