I’ll start with the positive – the pride.
We are releasing over 1,000 prisoners for one young man. Who are these 1,000…who is this one.
Gilad was 19 years old when he was kidnapped from Israeli territory that saw several soldiers murdered and Gilad dragged into Gaza. He was, initially, given a low profile for the army. Too low to be in combat. He fought the army to raise his profile and be allowed to fight in a combat unit. He was sent to join the tank division and was kidnapped shortly after finishing his training.
That’s all I can tell you about Gilad – how much is there to tell of a 19 year old?
As for the 1,000 – they include:
- Husam Badran, the former head of Hamas’ military wing in the West Bank, who orchestrated the deadly terror attacks at the Tel Aviv Dolphinarium in 2001, at the Park Hotel in Netanya in 2002 and at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001.
- Abdel Hadi Ghanem, an Islamic Jihad terrorist responsible for the 1989 terror attack on Egged bus 405, in which 16 Israelis were killed.
- Fahad Schludi, a terror operative who took part in the 1993 abduction and murder of IDF soldier Yaron Chen.
- Bassam Abu Sneina and Riyad Asila, who are serving a life sentence for the 1998 murder of yeshiva student Haim Kerman.
- Nael al-Barghouthi, the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1978, for murdering an Israeli security officer.
- Yehiya As-Sinwar, who was one of the founders of Hamas’ security forces in Gaza and was involved in the abduction and murder of IDF soldier Nachshon Wachsman. He is also the brother of one of the terrorists involved in Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping.
- Jihad Yarmur, who was convicted of Nachshon Wachsman’s murder.
- Ahmed Najar, former head of the Silwad terror cell, which killed three Israelis in six shooting attacks during the al-Aqsa Intifada.
- Mohammed Hamada, who was convicted of planning a rocket attack on Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.
- Ruhi Musteha, a senior operative with Hamas’ military wing.
- Muhammad Duglas, who was implicated in the Sbarro attack, and is serving 15 consecutive life sentences for the murder of 19 Israelis.
And this is only the start, the few we know now. So, now I’ll tell you where the pride comes in…
The pride is that I live in a country willing to release 1,000 including terrorists and murderers, for one. I live in a country that values life and has agonized for five years for Gilad. So many times, Arabs have written to me saying that we could not possibly be doing this all for Gilad; that Gilad is just one.
Yes, of course he is just one. But part of our religion says that if you save a single life, it is as if you have saved the entire world. That concept is foreign to the Arabs and so they believe, in their utter stupidity, that they are getting the best of this deal, that this is a victory for them.
But you see, even though I worry about the future, the victory is ours because at the end of this swap, we will have Gilad – whose only “crime” was that he served his nation with honor. And they…they will be getting 1,000 who served nothing, who cherished death and terror. They will get hundreds who tried to kill, dozens who succeeded. They refill their land with murderers and we get Gilad.
It is the Arabs that have set the worth of Gilad at over 1,000 of them and I find I cannot disagree. Sure, I’m worried about the swap, worried what these 1,000 will yet do. As for Gilad, I hope he will return healthy and whole. I hope he’ll find a girl, go to university, marry and have many children. I hope he will know that we have prayed for him for five years and never for a moment forgotten him.
So there is pride – I’d rather live in a land that traded for Gilad, than live in a society that traded for 1,000 lives dedicated to causing pain and death to others.
May God bless the people of Israel and the Shalit family – whatever happens this week, we chose life.