It seems that Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier abducted 5 years ago by Hamas, might be released soon as part of an Egyptian-brokered deal.
At first glance this looks like progress, Israelis and Palestinians manage to agree on a deal and settle an issue which led to a military incursion into Gaza. On top of that Egypt brokered the deal.
If you look closely though there isn't much to celebrate. Hamas has demanded the release of 1000 prisoners in the past, among them apparently people who were involved in terror attacks on Israel, so if they agree now they will probably get a lot in return for one Israeli soldier. Israel only agrees because the government is under a lot of pressure to do something about the situation and because they expect that the deals are going to get worse in the future due to Israel's deteriorating image.
Looks like the Palestinians recent PR activities are paying off. Funny that, in a way, the people who supported the Gaza flotilla and the Palestinian UN bid are helping a terrorist organization in a hostage situation and contribute to the release of convicted criminals.
Voice of joy and sunshine
26th May 2003
That seems a pejorative rather than descriptive way of putting things. The line between combatants and the economic and political support structures attached to them has blurred to a point where it is almost purely an academic distinction. All warfare aimed at destroying the other side's will to continue fighting is terrorism.
If the will of the military is a manifestation of the will of the government which is a manifestation of the will of the people... there really are few illegitimate targets in such a system. If you think democracy is a good way to govern the street goes both ways - power and culpability.
I don't see that this is a good deal for Israel. But then again those thousand might just be random shmucks - a few thousand more terrorists that are just thugs won't make much difference in the grand scheme of things. Now if it were a thousand bomb makers and electronics specialists and so on... that would make a lot of difference. Not everyone's worth the same. Can't really say how it works out without knowing who you're talking about.
I'd say you can be pejorative and descriptive at the same time. If you look at the motives for the deal and its results there isn't much to be happy about.
What distinction do you mean though? Between terrorist and soldier?
I'm not sure what your point with the legitimate targets is either: that Israeli soldiers appear like legitimate targets to Hamas doesn't surprise me. I understand the idea that civilians could be considered valid targets if you reason that they are ultimately responsible for participation in a conflict, but I prefer the idea that wars should be governed by rules. The larger and fiercer the war the less likely it is that anyone will heed such rules, but even so there may be some that will still apply.
As for what you added about the bombmakers and random dudes being released: it seems that previous deals failed exactly because of this point. Israel didn't want to release those people who had been convicted in terrorist attacks that killed Israelis and Hamas wanted those people back. We can only speculate, but it seems to me that Hamas managed to enforce its demands. From a practical point of view this still isn't such a big deal to Israel as they now know to which address to send the drones, but it is rather disturbing that Hamas could motivate Israel to release those people in the first place.
I'm too cool to Post
17th July 2003
If I were Israel I would agree and release everyone of them...after I had chipped them so I could GPS track them.
29th January 2005
A lot of these prisoners aren't really anything. Most were in the wrong place at hte wrong time honestly.
The Israeli government maintains large 'detention' centers for those that are captured on suspicion of aiding terrorists, though few are 'big'. Total prison population ranges somewhere from 6,000-7,000 that is acknowledged. The size of this population is rather large and doesn't count arrests of children that are later kept in supervision (somewhere between 200-300).
This type of prisoner swap isn't unprecedented though, I know they did a similar one in the 1980s for roughly the same amount of Palestinians for three PoWs then.
Though it's worth noting too that there was probably some advance agreement with this. A recent prison hunger strike had seen Hamas-aligned prisoners refuse to join in with other prisoners, probably acting on orders to not 'goof' any negotiations.
Commissar MercZ;5570841A lot of these prisoners aren't really anything. Most were in the wrong place at hte wrong time honestly.
According to the NYT article about 300 of the 1000 prisoners to be released had been convicted for life (I doubt that Israel hands out life sentences for being in the wrong place at the wrong time). There are also several women among the prisoners who gained some attention due to their involvement in terrorist attacks such as a woman who drove a suicide bomber to a restaurant where 16 people were killed. So while the most notorious prisoners won't be released these certainly aren't just kids who threw stones at Israeli settlers.
This article sheds some more light on the motivations, this time from Hamas' side. It seems that the motivation for agreeing to the deal is the success of a change in Israeli tactics as well as the increasing popularity of Fatah.
29th January 2005
My point is that the fact the military and government have thousands of prisoners to begin with. It's hard to not find a Palestinian living in either zone that doesn't know someone or has had connection to their movement in some way.
It's not that their condition matters anyways. The leader of the PFLP- Ahmad Sadat which is mentioned in the BBC article you linked to- was convicted and put in a West Bank prison- Jericho I think- a few years ago, under supervision by US and UK. GoI didn't like this and demanded Sadat be in their custody and stormed into Jericho prison- despite the US and UK guards stationed there- and stole him away basically, under the pretext that he would have been released due to the botched nature of the case that was shoved through.
It's not clear either whether all these prisoners will be allowed to return to their homes or made to leave and go to a refugee camp outside of the area. Israel set the conditions to this, but there's a good chance some of them will be forced out of the area all together.
So Galid has been freed and about 430 prisoners have been released in exchange yesterday. There have been some critical voices within Israel and attempts to stop the deal by families of victims of terrorist attacks, but the majority of the Israelis was in favour of the deal and so were the courts. Gazans are celebrating their victory and the militant group responsible for the abduction of Shalit has announced that it will attempt to capture more Israeli soldiers in order to free all remaining Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.
President of Novistrana
19th January 2003
About time those Palestinians were freed from israeli stalags, still thousands more locked up from their families with no right to fare trial.
Always funny when a Russian complains about unfair trials, especially if the alleged victims are Islamic terrorists.
Also nice touch with the nazi-comparison; comparing Israeli prisons for criminals to Nazi camps for POWs doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but it might help if you're applying for a job with Hamas or other anti-semitic organizations.