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Israel: Joy and Anger Continue Over Shalit Deal

Gilad Shalit's return has been one of the biggest events in recent Israeli history. IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was released from Hamas captivity after being held for 1,941 days, in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.

The deal was supported by the majority of Israelis, as Shalom Boguslavsky explained in his blog Put Down the Scissors and Let's Talk About It [he]:

אני עם בני בגין, שאמר על עסקת שליט שאין בה שום היגיון, אבל הוא לא יכול להתנגד לה. אני מניח שהתמיכה שלי, ואולי של רוב הציבור, בעסקה הרעה והמבישה הזאת קשורה בעיקר לצורך קולקטיבי ברגע משחרר, חגיגה. אם היינו חיים במדינה שמתנהלת באופן סביר לטובת אזרחיה ולא בבית משוגעים רדוף רוחות, לא היינו חווים את התנודות המאניות-דפרסיביות האלו בהלך הרוח הציבורי והיינו יכולים להתייחס לעניין בפיכחון גדול מעט יותר
I'm with Benny Begin [Likud Minister] on this, who said that the Shalit deal makes no sense, but he still cannot oppose it. I think my support for this bad and shameful deal, and maybe the support of the majority of the public stems mostly from our need for a collective moment of catharsis, a celebration. If we lived in a country that operates somewhat efficiently for the good of its citizens and not in this haunted madhouse, we wouldn't experience these manic-depressive swings in the public mood, and we could have treated this matter [the deal] with greater sobriety.

The news of Shalit's release was almost the only thing discussed in the Israeli twittersphere and blogosphere since the deal was announced. Supermodel Bar Refaeli reflected the popular mood with her tweet [he]:

גלעד שליט בבית. יום היסטורי. מרגש. גאווה להיות ישראלי http://yfrog.com/nz982gfj
@BarRefaeli: Gilad Shalit is home. A historic day. Exciting. I'm proud to be an Israeli http://yfrog.com/nz982gfj

Liron Teeny described the mood in the streets [he]:

ברחוב תל אביבי.צרחות שמחה מדירות.מכשירי טלוויזיה ורדיו צועקים את הבשורה.היסטוריה
@liront: In the streets in Tel Aviv: cries of joy from apartments. TV and radio sets screaming out the news. History.

Before returning to Israel, Shalit was forced to undergo an interview on Egyptian state television (Nile TV). Israelis on Twitter were furious about the interview, which was conducted in the presence of Hamas operatives and Egyptian intelligence. The translation of the interview from Hebrew misrepresented Shalit's words in Hebrew when he said he was not feeling well, and that he would only support the release of Palestinian prisoners if they do not return to terrorist activity. Some Israelis even opened a Facebook page about the Egyptian journalist who interviewed Shalit, titled Shahira Amin is a shame to journalism in response.

טוב, עד עכשיו הייתי צינית. עכשיו אני כועסת. הראיון הכפוי הזה לטלוויזיה המצרית, כשהוא חיוור, מפוחד, בקושי נושם, זו אכזריות לשמה
@vandersister: Okay, until now I was cynical. Now I'm angry. This forced interview to the Egyptian television, when he's pale, scared and barely breathing is outright cruelty.

Musician Noy Alooshe (who was behind the “Zenga Zenga” remix) reflected the Israeli mood about the interview when he created this poster about Shahira Amin.

Following the interview, Shalit was flown to the Tel Nof military base where he finally met his parents. Prime Minister Netanyahu made sure to exploit the opportunity for a photo-op and a self-congratulatory speech and was harshly and humorously criticized for it by Israelis online.

מאיפה התמונה הזו של ביבי עם גלעד ונועם מוכרת לי? אה, מכרזת הבחירות של 2013
@TzlilAvraham: Why does this photo of Bibi [Netanyahu's nickname] with Gilad and Noam [Shalit's father] seems familiar? Oh right, from [Netanyahu's] election campaign poster of 2013
סנט בנימין, הקדוש הפטרון של השבויים הפדויים
@roee_r: Saint Benjamin, the holy patron of the redeemed captives
אם היו מחזירים את גלעד שליט תמורת ביבי נתניהו, אני בספק אם היו מתנגדים לעסקה.
@adigi: If they would have returned Gilad Shalit in exchange for Bibi Netanyahu, I'm sure no one would've objected to it.

Tamar described the mixed feelings about the way Shalit's return was handled [he]:

בוכה מהדיסוננס שבין המתיקות של הבחור הזה לבין כל מה שקורה מסביבו. הוא מובלעת של תום בתוך ערימה גדולה מאד של כל מה שדפוק במין האנושי
@tamar_tamar: I'm crying because of the dissonance between the sweetness of this guy [Shalit] and everything that happens around him. He's an enclave of innocence in a big pile of what is wrong with the human species.

Others criticized the heavy price of the deal [he]:

הרטוריקה שלכם מוזרה לי קצת. החמאס שחרר את שליט, לא ביבי. ביבי הוא זה ששיחרר טרוריסטים רצחניים עם דם ילדים על הידיים
@dkapuchino: The rhetoric is a little strange. Hamas released Shalit, not Bibi. Bibi is the one who let out murderous terrorists with the blood of children on their hands.

Blogger Yossi Gurevitz expounded on his blog, Orwell's Friends [he]:

בין המחבלים שמשחרר נתניהו, כותב הבוקר אלכס פישמן במוסף לשבת של ידיעות אחרונות, יש 279 אסירי עולם. הם רצחו 599 ישראלים. משוחררי עסקת ג'יבריל רצחו, לשם השוואה, 178 ישראלים “בלבד”. השב”כ מעריך, שוב אליבא דפישמן, שכ-60% מהמחבלים המשוחררים יחזרו לבצע פיגועים. בהנחה שהם יהיו יעילים כמו בעבר, מחיר העסקה צפוי להיות 359 ישראלים הרוגים. אם השב”כ יהיה יעיל באופן קיצוני וימנע את פעילותם של 99% מהם – שיעור בלתי סביר, במיוחד אם היחסים עם הרשות הפלסטינית יקרסו – אז מספר ההרוגים צפוי להיות ארבעה. שהם, בספירה המקובלת, שלושה יותר מאשר אחד. הסתברותית, אנחנו מעלים ארבעה ישראלים לפחות למולך שליט. החמאס, נודע הבוקר, אפילו לא היה מוכן להתחייב להמנע מחטיפת חיילים בעתיד; עד כדי כך היה נתניהו נחוש, תקיף ומנהיגותי.
Among the terrorists Netanyahu is letting out, Alex Fishman writes in Yediot Aharonot's weekend supplement, there are 279 prisoners who've received life sentences. They've murdered 599 Israelis. Those released in the Jibril deal, murdered “only” 178 Israelis by comparison. The Shin Bet assesses, again according to Fishman, that about 60% of the released terrorists will return to terrorist activity. Assuming they'll be as efficient as before, the price of this deal would be 359 dead Israelis. If Shin Bet will be incredibly efficient and stops the activity of 99% of those released – an unlikely ratio, especially if relations with the Palestinian Authority collapse – then the number of killed is expected to be four, which by the traditional count and three more than one [Shalit]. Statistically, we are sacrificing four Israelis for the idol Shalit. Hamas, it was reported this morning, isn't even willing to commit to not kidnapping soldiers in the future; this is how determined, resolute and leader-like Netanyahu has been.

Blogger Haim Har Zahav, who served in the platoon with Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the soldiers whose kidnapping sparked the 2006 war with Hizbollah, wrote in his blog [he]:

הגיע הזמן שראש הממשלה יתייצב בפני אזרחי ישראל – לא בפני אויבי המדינה אלא בפני הישראלים! – ויודיע להם שגלעד שליט היה האחרון שלגביו יתקיים משא ומתן. שתדע כל אם עבריה שאם בנה או בתה נחטפים לצורכי מיקוח, ממשלת ישראל לא תשחרר יותר מקומץ מחבלים עבורם.
It's time that the Prime Minister stands before the citizens of Israel – not before the enemies of the state but before Israelis! – and announce that Gilad Shalit will be the last [captive] whose release will be negotiated for. Let every Hebrew mother know that if her son or daughter are kidnapped for bargaining, the Israeli government will not release more than a handful of terrorists for their release.

It wouldn't be the Israeli Twittersphere without some sarcastic comments. Rotem Biton described the scene where Shalit, who was kidnapped before the launch of the iPhone, is introduced to Angry Birds on the chopper ride from Egypt:

אתה רואה, אתה צריך למשוך את הציפור ואז לשחרר ולהרוג כמה שיותר חזירים #שיחות.מהמסוק
@rotemism: You see, you need to pull the bird and the release it and kill as many pigs as possible. #talksFromTheChooper
סביב שולחן ארוחת החג, נושא השיחה: מה אם גלעד נדרס מחר.
@Elle_Yav: Around the holiday [Sukkoth] dinner table, topic of conversation: what if Gilad Shalit is killed in a car accident tomorrow.
Thumbnail image shows Israeli men watching a television broadcast of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit being freed. Image by Pixsmedia Images, copyright Demotix (18/10/11).

2 comments

  • Arnold Handelman

    The comment that Hamas won’t commit to not kidnapping more Israeli soldiers is naive. As soon as the Shalit exchange deal was made, Hamas openly stated that they intend to kidnap more Israeli soldiers for future swaps.

    Netanyahu’s warning that any released prisoners who return to terrorism will be dealt with seriously, is important. Israel must be very tough on terrorists, by a policy of hunting them down and killing them, whether by drones, booby trap bombs, or outright assassination. All Palestinians should be made very aware of the high risk of perpetrating terror in Israelis.

  • People who are involved in terrorist activity against Israel are very much aware of the risks, but that doesn’t stop many from continuing down this path. I don’t think that threatening that they’ll be hunted down if they return to terrorism as Netanyahu did, will have any effect.

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