Editor’s note: Today, Frontpage presents our “Gilad Shalit edition,” which gives a platform to the different perspectives on this most difficult issue. While the article below supports the deal that freed Shalit, Steven Plaut’s piece in today’s issue, The “Prisoner Exchange” Absurdity, opposes it. Jacob Laksin’s Faces of Terror profiles the terrorists who were released for Shalit.
On Monday and Tuesday in Israel all you had to do to experience depths and peaks of emotion was watch TV.
On Monday, there were pictures of Abed el-Aziz Salha, the Palestinian who joyously held up his bloody hands during the lynch in 2000 of two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah. And of Amana Muna, the Palestinian woman who in 2001 used online impersonation and promises of romance to lure a 16-year-old Israeli boy into a fatal hail of bullets, also near Ramallah.
And of Abed al-Hadi Ganaim, the Palestinian who in 1989 forced an Israeli bus off a cliff, killing 16. And numerous others of that ilk—all of them, to the severe mortification of many relatives of victims, who appealed in vain to the Supreme Court, set to be released the next day to win Gilad Shalit’s freedom.
And on Tuesday, footage of transcendent power and beauty as Shalit—the soldier kidnapped by Hamas in June 2006—went from the depths of hell in Gaza, a solitary confinement in which his only “human” contact was his Hamas captors, to a brief sojourn in Egypt and then home to Israel. And this during Sukkot, an eight-day holiday that commemorates the Israelites’ long trek from Egypt to the Promised Land.
An enthralled Israeli public first saw Shalit whisked along by a burly, armed contingent of Hamas men and Egyptians, and then—gaunt, shy, and dazed—“interviewed” by a pertinacious Egyptian woman whose sensitivity to his condition was such that she tried to wring pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli propaganda out of him. But from there Shalit left the zone of darkness and cruelty and emerged into light and kindness—first checked by the chief army doctor at a border crossing, then flown to the Tel Nof air force base to be received by the prime minister, the defense minister, the chief of staff, and his father in a scene redolent of the Bible’s most heart-wrenching reunions.
And then, in a gorgeous sunset over the Galilee, his air convoy bringing him to his home village of Mitzpe Hila while an ecstatic crowd waving Israeli flags and singing “Am Yisrael Chai” (The People Israel Lives) awaited him. And a glimpse of the overwhelmed Shalit stepping out of a van and giving the crowd a single shy wave before finally being taken into the quietude of his home.
Pages: 1 2