The price to free Gilad Shalit

This month marks the third anniversary of Gilad Shalit’s long imprisonment with the Palestinians who kidnapped him.  Although it doesn’t seem to show up in American press, German and Israeli outlets are reporting that the Germans (!?) have brokered a deal for his release.  Here’s Der Spiegel:

Three years ago he was kidnapped by Hamas. Will Israeli solder Gilad Shalit soon be freed as a result of negotiations conducted by Germany’s BND foreign intelligence service? Under a proposal forwarded by the Germans, at least 450 Palestinians would be released in exchange for the soldier. The deal must still be approved by Hamas.

Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, has put forward a concrete proposal in negotiations for the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL, Israel would release at least 450 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit. After his release, the Israeli government has expressed a willingness to release further prisoners.

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that the prisoner releases be done as a humanitarian gesture and without any time pressure. Hamas has been given until the beginning of September to respond to the proposal.

The same story has been picked up in Israeli media sites, such as the Jerusalem Post and YNet news, although neither offers independent Israeli corroboration for the story.  The only corroboration comes from Palestinians, and I don’t count them as an historically reliable source.  According to the JPost:

Asked to comment on reports in some Arab media outlets about a breakthrough in the negotiations, [Hamas legislator] Bardaweel said: “It’s premature to talk about a deal. The German mediators are still in the process of gathering information.”

Bardaweel said that reports to the effect that a deal was imminent were aimed at exerting pressure on Hamas regarding the case of Schalit.

He added that the ball as still in the Israeli court and that if Israel really wanted to reach a deal, it could do so quickly by accepting the demands of Schalit’s captors.

Bardaweel said that despite the involvement of German mediators in the negotiations, the Egyptians were continuing to play a role to bridge the gap between Hamas and Israel.

Sources close to Hamas said that Ahmed Ja’bari, commander of the movement’s armed wing, was still in Cairo for talks with Egyptian General Intelligence officials about the prospects of reaching a deal with Israel.

YNet news expands upon the reference in the JPost article to Palestinian newspapers touting a deal:

Prisoner swap’s details have been finalized, sides await Netanyahu government’s approval, Palestinian newspaper al-Manar reports; Shalit expected to be transferred to Egypt in first phase of deal

Coming back home? A swap for the release of IDF captive Gilad Shalit has been finalized and awaits Israel’s approval, Palestinian newspaper al-Manar reported Saturday.

According to the report, all details of the deal have been worked out and the parties are now waiting for the Netanyahu government to endorse the agreement.

The United States and Syria played a key role in finalizing the deal, the paper said, nothing that this involvement prompted both Israel and Hamas to show more flexible positions.

According to the newspaper, the first phase of the deal will see Shalit handed over to Egypt following the release of Palestinian prisoners to the West Bank and Gaza. Sources in the know are quoted as saying that Israeli officials have expressed great reservations over the heavy price to be paid by Jerusalem in exchange for Shalit. Hence, the sources said, both PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak wish to see a broad public campaign that would pave the way for the deal’s approval.

As for me, I don’t trust either source, whether German or Palestinian.  The Germans have never been power brokers in the modern Mid-East, and their sudden emergence now is suspect.  And as for the Palestinians, I already mentioned their dubious history with regard to truth.

In any event, the story only says the Palestinians have agreed — and it may have been an easy agreement to reach because it’s a no lose for them.  If the agreement reaches fruition, they get 450 fighters return to them to kill another day.  If the agreement fails, they can boast that they agreed, and Israel refused to cooperate.

On Israel’s side, I’m ambivalent.  Gilad’s captivity is one of the great unsung human rights abuses in an area that comes under the media’s (and the UN’s) obsessive watchfulness.  Had an Arab been held captive in Israel for even three months without the due process Israel routinely accords such prisoners, it would have been a cause celebre in every paper in the world on a daily basis.  I want Gilad to come home.  On the other hand, setting a price on his release of 450 prisoners creates a huge incentive for the Palestinians to kidnap again and again.  For a small effort — securing one Israeli — they get a huge return.

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  • Danny Lemieux

    So one Israeli soldier is worth 450 Palestinian “fighters”.

    I begin to understand why the Palestinians suffer such problems with their self-esteem.

  • suek

    Has there been recent proof that Gilad is still alive?


    If it was only a matter of the self esteem of the Palestinians and the awful 450 to 1 ratio.

    The clue: huge return

    Thanks Book.. the pieces of this jigsaw puzzle are always in 3-D.
    Let’s see, we’ve got Germany and Arabs negotiating for one Israeli. Nah…it’s a bigger picture and broader brush and the painter is none other than, Mr. Self Esteem …….


    On Tuesday the Guardian reported that the Obama administration is now making Israel an offer it can’t refuse: In exchange for a government order to freeze construction for Jews in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, the administration will adopt a “much tougher line with Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons program.”

    Israel should refuse this offer.

    What the Guardian account shows is an Obama administration looking to blame Israel for the failure of its policy of attempting to appease the likes of Iranian dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    Come September, US President Barack Obama is going to have a difficult time of it. He set a September deadline for his strategy of diplomatically courting the mullahs. This policy involves deferring further sanctions against Teheran and all but openly renouncing the option of using military force to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations while waiting politely for the mullahs to sit down for tea with US officials.

  • Charles Martel

    The Palestinians are an irony-free people, so the fact that one Israeli is worth 450 Palestinians is lost on them.

    What is not lost on them is the vulnerability of the Israelis when it comes to gaming their decency. Whereas the Palestinians yawn whenever one or 100 of their countrymen are killed (their deaths all advance the cause and, besdies, they all end up in Mohammed’s paradisical brothel anyway), the Israelis move heaven and earth to rescue on of their own. Reminds me of the Marines.

    I was trying to think of an image that shows how two groups of humans can diverge to the point that one group loses its humanity. Wells’s Morlocks and Eloi from “The Time Machine” come to mind. The underground-dwelling Morlocks were wont to snatch and eat the ditzy Eloi.

    Obviously the Morlocks are the Palestinians and the Israelis are the Eloi.

    Bummer for the Morlocks, though, that in this case the Eloi are heavily armed.


    irony-free people

    I have another image… the very same audience that sat and listened to Diane Watson’s drivel – all locked in a time warp.


    suek..This still doesn’t really answer your question, but it’s what I found. Yesterday was Gilad Shalit’s 23rd birthday.

    In July 2009, Hamas TV in Gaza broadcasted a short animated movie that depicts Shalit chained to a jail cell wall, pleading with a Palestinian boy to be set free. The boy refuses, saying he has relatives in Israeli prisons.

    In July 2009, Noam Shalit, the father of the soldier held by Hamas, testified before the Goldstone Committee, which is investigating illegal conduct by combatants during Gaza War on behalf of the United Nations.

    Shalit told the committee that his son has lived without human rights for three years and that no one, including the Red Cross, knows what happened to him or paid him a visit.

  • Earl

    Suek…Sadie – so, the answer is “No – we haven’t a clue as to whether Gilad Shalit is alive or dead.” And the vaunted Red Cross, ACLU, U.N., etc. etc. apparently couldn’t care less. Has anyone heard a single word from any of the world’s “human rights” organizations about this outrageous situation?

  • Ymarsakar

    The going rate went up. Before it was 500 Palestinians for two dead Israelis. Now it is 500 Palestinians for one live Israeli?

  • Ymarsakar

    So, in my economic adviser role, I think it would be prudent to trade 2 live Israelis for 7000 dead Palestinians, if the market rate is currently 500 Palestinians per 1 live Israeli.

    This is a good deal for Palestine people.


    Earl…human rights organizations have been entirely too busy safeguarding the rights of jihadists to concern themselves with such details. Initially, the asking price for Gilad was 1200-1500 Palestinian prisoners. The ‘new’ number of 450, is WHAT…a reference to flexibility or part of a new economic stimulus project.

    You would have to read into the caverns of current history to get the full nauseating picture.

    Before the internet and cable news, how many know or remember the story of Ron Arad.


    Another story another Jew … never covered in the press beyond Europe.

    Y…that’s the $64,000 Dollar Question. Gilad is to be turned over to Egypt prior to the ‘swap meet’ – The odds suck.



    So, in my economic adviser role, I think it would be prudent to trade 2 live Israelis for 7000 dead Palestinians, if the market rate is currently 500 Palestinians per 1 live Israeli.

    This is a good deal for Palestine people.

    Not good enough, if I am doing the math…I have the visuals of the link below seared into my memory of an Israeli soldier dangling from the police station, who was dropped to the waiting crowd below and stomped to death.

  • Ymarsakar

    The only thing enemies of humanity understand is force. Not morality, not laws, not ethics, not bribes. Power is the only thing they respect and acknowledge, and if you don’t have power, you are not a threat to them.

  • Ymarsakar

    The way a more common sense and less luxurious people would have handled the Palestinian incident in question would be thus:

    After the lynching, military forces would be launched to suppress and capture all the denizens of the police station in question. Extraordinary interrogation would be used, above and beyond Enhanced Interrogation, in order to verify, derive, or approximate who is guilty and who had the primary participation. Along with video, professional or homemade, to accurately identify some known participants, you will have a dossier of those found to be responsible.

    Then you video tape their tribunal and hanging, and then you ship the DVDs to the families of the Palestinians in question, including Arafat. This is, of course, after contacting your allies in the media and giving them the scoop and exclusive, so that they can overpower and exterminate their competition, the enemy media.

    Amongst these DVDs will be specifically and professionally recorded confessions from the individuals just executed.

    This is the message wise leaders would send, because that is what would protect their people. But in modern times, leaders and nations don’t do this. They just allow it to be done to the weak and the innocent, while telling themselves that they are superior for not utilizing effective methodology.

    In the past, nations and leaders have certainly failed to protect their own. This has been due often to a lack of power as it was due to a lack of wisdom (insanity). But no longer lack power. So either we are insane or we are trying for suicide.


    Open, scroll down to September 2 cartoon and commentary.

  • Ymarsakar

    The thing about leaders is that once they take power, they become detached from the brutality, ruthlessness, and inherent cruelty necessary to ‘work’.

    They not only get slow information, they can take bad information as well. They start to take counsel of their fears. They do not pile all their winnings in one roll of the dice, to win or lose it all. They worry about the rest of the people, the ones that they would have to risk.

    Unfortunately, the people with the drive necessary to just plow through enemies foreign or domestic alike, tend to be unbalanced. The distortion of hate, will, determination, love, and patriotism starts to warp people’s good intentions, turning their ultimately idealistic goals into something far darker.

    Of course, those like Hitler and Pol Pot started off as servants of entropy in the first place. So it didn’t take them far to go personally. They could not build, because it was not in them in the first place.

    In times of crisis, a tyrant is needed to clean up the mess of the diplomats and those who tried to sustain the status quo. But only if they fail. They may yet not.