One Israeli Soldier for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners

Late Monday night, the deal that the world has been closely watching finally happened. Hamas captured an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, in 2006 when he was 19 years old. Israel spent years negotiating for his freedom while he was being held  “incommunicado by Hamas.” Five long and anticipated years later, Israel finally made the deal to free him.  In order to get this one prisoner freed, Israel had to release 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange. Late Monday night, the first 477 inmates were freed shortly before Shalit was handed over to Egyptian security forces. Later, he came home to Israel.

The Israeli Cabinet majority of 26-3 and the Israeli community worldwide backed this deal. Yet, many Israelis are troubled with the amount of prisoners that had to be freed in exchange. What troubles people the most is the fact that many of these prisoners were murderers of fellow Israelis. While the public demanded the deal, many now fear that the recently freed Palestinians will return back to kill more Israelis. But, some of these prisoners are released with strings attached. Some are not ” allowed to leave the country, while others will have restrictions on their movement or be required to report their whereabouts to local police according to Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen.” To easy these worries, these conditions may prevent these prisoners to return back to Israel.

Further, many question how the families of Israelis who were killed by these prisoners will ever seek justice. But, the bigger policy in freeing one of their own should supersede these worries.

The media is asking us, “Is one Israeli worth 1,027 Palestinians?” But, is this the discussion that we should even be having?



  1. This swap seems completely unfair. It is hard to understand the necessity of 1,027 prisoners being freed, as a trade for one prisoner’s freedom. I think this trade off is unsettling for me because of the types of prisoners that were freed. It seems extremely unjust to let murderers who are serving life sentences, or multiple life sentences, back onto the streets. It is a slap in the face to the justice system to let these criminals go, when the system has deemed them guilty of a crime. I also think that Israel is risking these Palestinian’s attacking their people and land. Israel may have enforced certain restrictions and limitations on these freshly released Palestinians, but will a court order really keep them from doing what they have already done in the past? These Palestinians may feel that they have a new lease on life and they have to now live it to the fullest in terms of getting revenge on those that have kept them locked up for a certain amount of years.

  2. Although I was very excited to hear about the plan to free Gilad Shilat, and his recent freedom, after hearing the particulars of the dea, l I too wondered if this was really a wise or fair exchange. For years, Gilad Shilat has been getting tons of recognition as an Israeli solider who was taken captive by Hamas. Just a few months ago, it seems like almost everyone I know had a Facebook status about that day being Gilad Shilat’s 25th birthday, and that we should all pray for his release from Hamas.
    However, I constantly wondered why no other Israeli solders, held in captivity by Hamas, were getting any attention. Surely, there must be many Israelis who are currently held by Hamas, but none are as “famous” as Gilad Shalit.
    Your post mentioned the families of dead Israelis who were killed by the recently freed Palestinians, and how terrible they must feel to see these horrible people who murdered their family members go free. I can only imagine how these families must feel, as it seems that Israel has valued Gilad Shalit’s life over any one else’s, including other Israeli soldiers who are still missing. How must their families feel? Will Israel be willing to trade another 1,027 prisoners in exchange for more freed Israeli soldiers? Probably not.
    So, while it was definitely a happy milestone to see the release of Gilad Shalit after so many years in captivity, I still can’t help but think of the unfairness that this deal seems to present to so many others.

  3. I think the age-old adage, “don’t negotiate with terrorists,” seems fitting in this situation. Hamas went into Israel and attacked the army post with the intention of taking hostages to use as bargaining chips. They demanded the release of over 1,000 prisoners, many of whom have committed serious crimes, and more importantly, they violated International law and the Geneva Convention Protocols for captured soldiers (allowing the Red Cross to visit, allowing communication with their family). They offered no signs of good faith or the willingness to compromise, and what happened? Almost all of their demands were met. Obviously, this was a difficult situation and a person’s life was at stake, but this sets a dangerous precedent. Hamas now knows that their tactics work; all they had to do was dig their heels in and wait. Seeing that they succeeded once, it’s likely that they will try something like this again.

  4. First of all, the release of 1,027 jailed Palestinians is in an infinitely small price to pay to ensure the freedom and safety of Gilad Shalit. Second of all, I agree that focusing on the number of prisoners swapped is a misguided exercise with respect to this issue. Rather, I believe that the focus should be on what this move says about the essential values and character of the Israeli people. In attaining Shalit’s freedom, Israel has demonstrated that notions of retribution and revenge are inconsequential compared to notions of community, the sanctity of life, freedom, family, and identity. In obtaining the release of Shalit, Israel demonstrated some of its true colors. And, I have to believe this is a good thing because a better understanding of Israeli values should have a positive impact on the peace-process.

  5. Negotiating with terrorists in this instance will only serve to beget more terrorism. Now that the Palestinians realize how many of their comrades they can have freed for one Israeli soldier, they may be more inclined to attempt to capture Israelis. As sad as it would be for the one Israeli soldier that was released, the better policy decision in my view would be not to negotiate with the Palestinians and far as prisoner trades are concerned. It only opens up the Israeli’s to abuse of the negotiations by the Palestinians. As important as one life is, the welfare of the Israeli nation may now be put at risk by this prisoner release. Although Israel claims that restrictions are being put on some of the prisoners they released, how safe will these restrictions really keep the Israeli people? It is perhaps more likely that these released terrorists will simply use their skills and knowledge to perpetuate more acts of terrorism against Israel. While it is certainly a wonderful thing that this Israeli prisoner was released, I am not sure if the price Israel may be forced to pay warrants the reward. While one human life is of course important, if one must be sacrificed to protect a whole nation from over one-thousand dangerous people, the price to protect that one life may be too high.

  6. What concerns me in this discussion is the seemingly arms length treatment of the one human life involved here. I cannot conscientiously say that a human’s freedom/life should be sacrificed for the greater protection of the Israeli people in the future. It may be possible or even likely that such a sacrifice may be the best course of action in dealing with these terrorists, but the decision to make that sacrifice should be made by the individual, not the population intended to benefit from the resulting policy. The dangers of the precedent set here may be real and the enforcement of the regulations placed on the freed prisoners may prove difficult and ineffective, but sound decisions in delicate situations cannot be motivated by fear. There is something about conforming to terrorist demands that instinctively irks us, but embarking on the alternative route would be even more disturbing.

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