Analysis: What makes Israel unique

While its enemies praise death, Israel sanctifies life, for that reason it is willing to pay heavy price to retrieve one IDF soldier.

October 18, 2011 03:06
3 minute read.
Gilad Schalit cutout seen through yellow ribons

Gilad Schalit cutout seen through yellow ribons 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


If everything goes as planned on Tuesday morning, Gilad Schalit will return home and Israel will once again prove that it is different from the rest of the countries that surround it in the Middle East.

On the one hand, there is no question that for Hamas and Hezbollah, Israel’s decision to release 1,027 convicted terrorists will motivate them to try and kidnap more Israeli soldiers in the future. Some in Israel are calling this move national suicide.

High Court decides not to intervene in Schalit swap
Security prisoners hold off on celebrating early releases

The fact that 450 of the terrorists are responsible for the deaths – directly and indirectly – of over 500 Israelis, just adds to the encouragement.

On the other hand, the exchange of so many prisoners for just one Israeli soldier can also be hailed as the exact difference between Israel and its enemies.

While its enemies praise death, Israel sanctifies life, and for that reason it is willing to pay such a heavy price to retrieve one Israeli soldier and bring him home to his family after more than five years in captivity.

The day after Schalit is released will be possibly the most difficult.

While it will take the media some time to back off from the story – Schalit will likely be hounded by photographers wherever he goes – the focus will shift, either back to the social protests, that until recently were at the top of the papers, or to the next crisis in waiting.

For the IDF this will also be a time of introspection.

On the one hand, there is more than a measure of truth to the claim that by releasing Schalit, Israel sends a message throughout its military and to all of its soldiers that, as a country, it does not leave a soldier behind.

On the other hand, if tomorrow, soldiers from the Golani Brigade, or any other random unit, are sent to arrest a Palestinian terror suspect in Gaza or the West Bank they will likely wonder what the point is of risking their lives if the same man they arrest could be released in the next prisoner swap.

There is also the question of Israeli-government policy. What will it do the next time a soldier is kidnapped?

When Schalit was first abducted by Hamas in June, 2006, then-prime minister Ehud Olmert announced that Israel would not negotiate his release. This quickly changed when, as prime minister, Olmert successfully negotiated one prisoner swap with Hezbollah for the bodies of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, and started the negotiations with Hamas that are to culminate in Schalit’s release on Tuesday.

The Winograd Commission, which investigated the failures of the Second Lebanon War, called on the government to set a clear policy for how it will deal with future kidnappings.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak then appointed former Supreme Court justice Meir Shamgar to issue recommendations, which have not yet been made.

Israel could potentially declare that from now on, there will be no more negotiations. The problem is that this is easier said than done, and the government will have difficulty explaining to the family of the next soldier why it is not willing to negotiate the release of their son.

There is no easy answer, but with Israeli intelligence warning of increased motivation among terrorist groups to kidnap soldiers, a clear policy is needed.

Click for full JPost coverage on Gilad Schalit

Now is the time to join the news event of the year - The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference!
For more information and to sign up,
click here>>

Related Content

idf hebron
August 22, 2014
Palestinians throw Molotov cocktail at IDF checkpoint in Hebron


Cookie Settings