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Israel: News of Gilad Shalit's Release Welcomed

On October 11, 2011, the Israeli government and top Hamas officials confirmed that a deal has been struck between Israel and Hamas that would lead to the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.

Since Shalit's kidnapping in 2006, his parents, Israeli media outlets and celebrities have campaigned for his release. The news about the deal were welcomed by most Israelis, but not all. As Noam Sheizaf and Noa Yachot described on +972 Mag:

Spontaneous celebrations took place at the Shalit family’s protest tent in Jerusalem. Counter-protesters demonstrated outside the tent against the release of Palestinian prisoners “with blood on their hands” – a term denoting those charged with deaths of Israelis.

Thousands have marched in the streets of Jerusalem calling for the release of the soldier Gilad Shalit. Image by Yitzy Russek, copyright Demotix (08/07/2010).

Thousands have marched in the streets of Jerusalem calling for the release of the soldier Gilad Shalit. Image by Yitzy Russek, copyright Demotix (08/07/2010).

Israeli tweeps also commented about the identities of some of the Palestinian prisoners set to be released who were convicted of carrying out terror attacks that resulted in the death of Israelis:

@Arspoeti:
מזכירים פה כבר שמות של משוחררים. אין שום ספק שמדובר באוסף נאה של חארות. האלטרנטיבה של להפוך אותו לרון ארד רעה יותר
Names of those who will be released are being mentioned. Undoubtedly, this is a nice collection of assholes. [But] the alternative of making him [Gilad Shalit] into Ron Arad [an Israeli soldier who was kidnapped in the 1980s in Lebanon and is now presumed dead] is even worse

Other tweeps discussed the results of this release of prisoners:

@Dubikan: שמח עבור גלעד שליט, חושש עבור החייל הבא שיחטף כדי לשחרר עוד אלף אסירים, ועבור האנשים שיפגעו בפיגועים אחרי ששוב הוכחנו שרק כח אנחנו מבינים
I'm happy for Gilad Shalit, worried about the next soldier who will be kidnapped to release a thousand other prisoners, and about the people who will be hurt in terror attacks after we once again have proven that we only understand force.
@YGurvitz: מה יקרה למצב הרוח הציבורי, אחרי הרצח הראשון שיבצעו משוחררי עסקת שליט?
What will happen to the public's mood after the first murder committed by those who were released in the Shalit deal?

The deal passed the vote in the Israeli government, with only three ministers voting against it. Dahlia Scheindlin explained on +972 Mag the results of the vote:

In my assessment, the government vote is a pretty good indicator of how the public feels at this moment: 10% against the deal, and the rest – 90% for it.

The public mobilization for Shalit has been massive. There has hardly been a single major public forum that has not been leveraged to call for Shalit’s release.

Due to the public support for the deal, it is seen in Israel as a victory for Prime Minister Netanyahu, who used the opportunity to send a celebratory tweet:

@IsraeliPM: I am bringing #Gilad #Shalit home !

The Israeli twittersphere, however, was not impressed.

@adigi: נתניהו: הספין הזה לא יעזור לך. כולם יזכרו שיכולת לאשר את אותה העסקה לשחרור שליט גם לפני שנתיים, ולחסוך לו מאות ימים בשבי
Netanyahu: this spin won't help you. Everyone will remember that you could have approved the same deal to release Shalit two years ago too, and save him hundreds of days in captivity.

Many tweeps saw the Gilat Shalit deal as a ploy to increase Netanyahu's popularity, after it had suffered a significant hit as a result of the #j14 social justice protest movement during the summer.

@nitayp: איזה רגע ישראלי מזוקק: התפטרות המתמחים והמחאה החברתית שנוגעות ישירות למיליונים יורדות מסדר היום בגלל חייל אחד שאנחנו בעצם לא מכירים.
What a typical Israeli moment: the quitting of medial residents [in protest of low wages and long working hours] and the social protest that affect millions lose public attention because of one soldier we don't actually know.
@Zivpug: מה שחשוב עכשיו זה לא לתת לשקרניהו להפוך את שליט לנצחון שלו. כי זה לא. המסיבה צריכה להיות ברוטשילד, לא בקריה #J14 #shalit
What's important now is to not let Shekernyahu [a combination of the words liar and the Prime Minister's last name, a common critical nickname for the PM] make Shalit his victory. Because it is not. The celebration should be in Rothschild [where the tent cities of the social justice movement started], not in the Kirya [government and military complex in Tel Aviv]. #j14 #Shalit
@Arspoeti: מקווה שגלעד יחזור בריא, כי אין רופאים
I hope Gilad returns home healthy, since there are no doctors [due to the mass-quitting by medical residents]

In a twittersphere known for its cynicism and dark sense of humor, a few Israelis used the news as an opportunity to crack jokes:

@tsooff: גלעד שליט בראיון ראשון: החלום על האייפד 2 החזיק אותי
Gilad Shalit in his first interview: dreaming about the iPad 2 kept me going.
@davidohayon: אביבה שליט: “גלעד לא יחזור אותו ילד ששלחנו” , מגדירה מחדש את המושג Buyer's remorse
Aviva Shalit [Gilad's mother]: “Gilad won't return as the same kid we sent”, redefining the term Buyer's remorse.

Others used the prisoner swap deal to criticize the Israeli government's policies with regards to the Palestinians:

@vandersister: רק מזכירה לכולם שלא רק שחרור מחבלים הוא הסכנה לפיגועים, אלא גם העובדה שאין שום הידברות מדינית וכאלה. ג'אסט סיינג
I'm just reminding everyone that releasing terrorists isn't the only thing that increases the chances for terror attacks, but also the lack of any negotiations and such. Just saying.

Eyal Niv wrote a critical post on his Blog, Truth from the Land of Israel [he] about Israel's policy with regards to Gaza:

רק דבר אחד לא ניסו. לעצור לרגע ולחשוב, למה בכלל מחזיקים אלפי אסירים פלסטינים בישראל, אם רובם אינם טרוריסטים, וכמה זה עולה למשלם המיסים, והאם זה לא מזמין אלימות בתביעה לצדק. …

ועכשיו שישוחרר, בשעה טובה, יש להוסיף ולשאול עוד – מה הלאה: האם עכשיו יוסרו ההגבלות? יפסיקו את הפגיעה בכלואים הפלסטינים בישראל? המצור? הבידוד מהגדה? הגבלות השיט? החקלאות? הייצוא והייבוא? היתרים לנסוע לחו”ל? לטיפול רפואי? ללימודים? הלוא שליט היה העילה כביכול. אולי צריך לחשוב מחדש: את מי משרת המצור – אותנו או את חמאס?

Only one thing they didn't try. To stop for a minute and think, why are we holding thousands of Palestinians prisoners in Israel, if most of them aren't terrorists, and how much this costs the taxpayers, and does it invite violence [kidnappings] in a demand for justice [release of prisoners]. …

And now that he'll be released, finally, we must also ask – what's next? Will now the restrictions [on Gaza] be lifted? Will now they stop punishing the Palestinians incarcerated in Israel? The siege [of Gaza]? The isolation [of Gaza] from the West Bank? The fishing limitations? The agriculture? The export and import? The permission to travel abroad? [The permission] to get medical treatment? [The permission] to study [abroad]? Shalit, after, was the excuse for this. Maybe we need to rethink, whom does the siege serve -us or Hamas?

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