[..] Even Hamas understands that Israel cannot be seen as releasing ‘prisoners’ who ‘have blood on their hands’ except as part of a ‘final settlement.’ The way this has been worked around for many years now – going back to the Ahmed Jibril exchange of 1985 – was not to release ‘prisoners’ with ‘blood on their hands.’ That is to say that the candidates for release in most cases were the perpetrators of failed terror attacks. To suggest that they are any less culpable (or in legal terms, that they had any less mens rea – bad intent) than those terrorists who were ‘successful’ in carrying out their attacks is simply delusional.
The proof is in a study released in September 2006 by the Almagor Terror Victims Association , headed by Meir Indor, which was recently updated. The study reveals that 177 innocent people have been murdered in 30 terror attacks perpetrated by ‘released prisoners’ over the last several years. Most of those murdered were Jewish Israelis. When released, the ‘released prisoners’ did not ‘have blood on their hands.’ As the report states:
It should be emphasized that the term ‘without blood on their hands’ portrays these terrorists as less dangerous – but in fact they are ‘without blood on their hands’ only because the Israeli security services managed to arrest them before they could murder, or because they were indirectly involved in murder, or the like. In actuality, they would be quite happy to be ‘with blood on their hands.’
It is important to note that the original study only covered the 6912 terrorists released between 1993 (when the Oslo Declaration of Principles was signed) and 1999 and only covered terror attacks perpetrated through August 2003. If anything, the actual current numbers are even higher.
The latest estimate I have heard would have Israel release 1000-1400 ‘prisoners’ in exchange for Shalit. But the real measure of how much Shalit will cost is not in how many ‘prisoners’ are released but in how many Israelis are murdered as a result. It will be several years before we can intelligently answer that question.
One of the three commandments a Jew cannot violate to save his own life is murder. The Gemara sums this up succinctly by saying, “why do you think your blood is redder than his?” On the other hand, our Rabbis teach that when a border area is attacked on the Sabbath, we are allowed to violate the Sabbath to repel the attack, because otherwise the entire country could be in danger. When the IDF went into Gaza after Shalit and Lebanon after Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, I viewed those as border attacks (which they were) and felt that it was worth risking soldiers’ lives to try to rescue Shalit, Goldwasser and Regev. Soldiers are equipped and prepared for danger, and while obviously soldiers sometimes are killed (over 150 died in this past summer’s fiascoes) or wounded, at least they can defend themselves. Besides, the failure to respond to the kidnappings, would have invited more kidnappings. An individual citizen has no defense against suicide bombers. Because of that, releasing potential suicide bombers in exchange for Gilad Shalit is morally wrong. His blood is no redder than that of the hundreds of potential Israeli victims who may die as a result of his release.
Almagor has found that most released terrorists return to terrorism after their release “leading to a price in human life many times greater than the grave difficulties faced by a given individual family.”
In summary, I must endorse Almagor’s conclusions:
We therefore call upon the Israeli public not to be led astray by word games that make light of the terrorists’ murderous intentions, and not to comfort ourselves with the hope that the next attack won’t hit us or those close to us. We, victims of terrorism, know from our own bitter experience that for us, these were false illusions. As soon as the Tenenbaum exchange was completed, Hizbullah began planning its next kidnapping – the results of which we all experienced in the war last summer. We call upon the public to totally oppose these vain and lethal exchanges, despite the emotional difficulties.
I could not agree more.