Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has confirmed that a deal with Hamas, brokered by Egypt has been reach that will free Gilad Shalit. Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas five years ago, and the terrorist group has refused to allow the Red Cross to visit him so no one can be sure of his condition. There was a short video of Shalit released by Hamas in Oct. 2009 but nothing since.
Information is still coming in but the outline of the deal includes the release of 1000 Palestinian prisoners by Israel, 300 of them are serving life sentences for terrorist attacks.
Also, according to sources one of those 300 convicted of murder to be released is Marwan Barghouti, who was sentenced in 2004 to five life sentences for planning and carrying out the murder of five Israelis, and involvement in the murders of another 33.
Among the terror attacks that Barghouti planned and participated in were a June 2001 attack in Maale Adumim in which a Greek monk was murdered as his beard made him look Jewish as he drove by the terrorists, a January 2002 terror attack on a gas station in Givat Zeev, a March 2002 attack at Tel Aviv’s Seafood Market restaurant, in which three people were murdered, and a car bomb attack in Jerusalem.
Barghouti is also seen as a political rival to PA President Abbas.
Speaking to Reporters Netanyahu said
“In the coming days we will return Gilad to the bosom of his parents, Aviva and Noam, to his brother Yoel, his sister Hadas, his grandfather Tzvi and the entire people of Israel,” Netanyahu said.
“Two and a half years ago, with the forming of [my] government, I took it upon myself as my most significant task to return Gilad to his people and his family and return him alive and well,” the premier said, adding: “Gilad has spend five years in the most horrible of captivities, without us knowing what was his condition.”
“I do not know if the near future would have allowed us to achieve a better deal, or a deal at all, since it is very likely that this window of opportunity created in these circumstances would have finally closed, and we wouldn’t have freed Gilad at all,” he added.
‘Those circumstances which Netanyahu speaks is the radicalization of Israel’s neighbors, certainly Egypt, for example, will not be as willing to mediate a deal, once the Muslim Brotherhood takes over.
There will be those who will rant about how horrible this deal is, especially the release of Barghouti and people who are responsible for even more deaths than him.
Allow me to respond in advance to those rants. For those of us living outside of Israel, it is none of our business. Until you live on the front lines of the war against Palestinian terror you have no right to complain when Israel makes a prisoner exchange. It is their child being released, and it is their arses on the line should any of these released prisoners return to terrorism.
While I haven’t spoken to my Israeli friends since the deal was announced, I guarantee you that for Israelis this deal is a gut wrenching experience after five years a young man with a boyish face returns home, and at the same time they may be condemning others to death by these terrorists hands. One could argue both ways, but the real difference between Israel and the terrorists is that they value each human life, and each one of their soldiers is like their child. Unlike the terrorists no life, on either side is expendable. The deal is gut wrenching, but as Israelis and as Jews there was no other choice.
UPDATE Carl In Jerusalem is reporting
Israel Radio is reporting that Marwan Barghouti, Abdullah Barghouti and Hassam Salameh – all leaders of the intifadeh – will not be freed (The New York Times says Marwan Barghouti will be freed). But Amana Mona and Ahlam Tamimi will be freed. Israel Radio also reports that Hamas supporters in Gaza are disappointed that Hamas didn’t get more.