I have been, throughout these long 1,935 days, forever torn between the desperate hope of getting Gilad home and the reality that releasing 1,000+ terrorists and murderers will bring about more kidnappings, more deaths, more terror. I remain, at this moment, torn – there is the glimmer of hope that Gilad will walk home, healthy and whole, that we will see him in his mother’s arms at last. And there is the terror that the price we have paid is nothing compared to the price we will pay.
If all 1,000 of these Palestinians return to their homes and live their lives in peace, grateful that they cheated justice, but remain non-violent, than I will believe this deal was right and just. No, not just – that it will never be…but at least right. No one can know the future…and yet, everything inside of me believes that many of these 1,000 will yet kill again.
And yet, as I count the many possible responses, I know that one of the highest values we have in our religion is the need to redeem hostages. A day has not gone by in all these years that I haven’t looked at my children and thought of Gilad. That sounds extreme and yet it is true.
I thought of Gilad when my son got married; when each son entered the army and when each left active service. I thought of Gilad at each ceremony that celebrated their advancing through the phases of their service and every Shabbat when my synagogue said a prayer for his return. I thought of him when it was cold and when it was hot, when the holidays came, when I was happy, sad, feeling lonely. And I think of Gilad now, what he is thinking – if he even knows about the deal.
Will they even tell him…or will they prolong his agony to the last possible moment? Will he know, even as they take him to a car, that at the end of this journey, he will see his parents again?
It is the holiday of Sukkot here in Israel. Family time and much talk of Gilad and the swap. My children are universally against the trade. They have no qualms, no hesitations. For them it is a simple matter to decide. “How many hundreds will die?” Davidi asked me tonight. He is fifteen years old and wants to know how many more attacks, how many more kidnappings.
I’m put in the amazing position of having to defend a trade that I don’t even agree with, “how do you know those hundreds won’t die anyway? There were attacks before they took Gilad, since they took him. There will be more.”
There will be more..these are the words a mother says to her child?
Elie is angry about the trade. Shmulik disgusted. They all understand the simple equation. Release 1,000 for Gilad, and the Palestinians will ask for 2,000 next time. My oldest daughter listened to part of the list of prisoners to be released and is amazed. One was convicted of murdering 16 people; another of 15. One was sentenced to more than 20 consecutive life sentences – this is not justice.
I want to tell my children that Israel will do this deal for Gilad, but God help these terrorists if they try again. I want the government to make it clear – these terrorists will never again see the inside of an Israeli prison – next time they come to harm us, we will shoot to kill. I want to tell the world that the next time there is an Itamar attack, we will not have to hunt for the Awad cousins and their ilk because as we hunt them, there will inevitably be a showdown in which they will die because every soldier will know that what we imprison today, we will be forced to release tomorrow.
I want the army to tell its soldiers – take no more prisoners. Your life takes precedent. No more risks, no more hesitations, no more exchanges of those who murder our babies.
Elie was telling me some of the rules the army has for how soldiers respond to an incident. If a terrorist shoots fifteen people to death and then throws his weapon down, soldiers cannot respond with deadly force. They must bring him to justice. In Israel, the rule of law exists and so these murderers are tried and sentenced…and then, apparently, the rule of terror will prevail. That is the reality we must prove wrong…after we prove it right be releasing those who have murdered dozens of Israelis next week.
If a terrorist is under 16, Elie told me, soldiers cannot respond with deadly force. Elie joked about having to call out, “Wait, stop – before I can shoot you, I need to know how old you are?” Did the Palestinians ever care how old their victims are?
What I am left with is the simple reality – if all goes as planned, we will get Gilad back after more than 5 years. He was a boy of 19, now he is 25 years old. What was stolen from him, can never be returned. Some have urged me to be happy that Gilad will be free…I am happy for him, for his family. And at the same time, I am terrified of what the future will be and have two thoughts I’d like to share – I’ll separate them in the next too posts…
One – is pride (see The Pride in the Trade).
Two – is a warning (see The Warning in the Trade).