From time to time, in minor league sports a player will be trade for a bag of balls, hockey pucks or other sporting equipment. Often these trades have more to do with contract technicalities than skill. From time to time the player can even go on to have a successful professional career. Israel has been staring down the prospect of an unattractive trade. Gilad Shalit was kidnapped 1199 days ago.
On Friday Israel traded a video of Shalit in exchange for 20 female prisoners. Assuming this was a pre-trade to bring about Shalit's freedom the price was relatively minor. In a world where perception is more important than facts, the drawbacks of this deal could have far reaching damaging results.
The positive results for Israel are clear. Providing the general public proof that Shalit is alive helps avert fear of a repeat of the Goldwasser and Regev trade. Israel did not know in advance if the soldiers they traded for were not alive. It adds to the burden of Hamas to protect Shalit. A number of times Hamas has taunted Israel claiming they didn't know if he was alive or dead. He is now beyond a shadow of a doubt their responsibility. The video can easily be spread to help put pressure on the world to help pressure Hamas to release him. It can also bring comfort to the Shalit family. He has been denied communication with his family and visitation by the International Red Cross as required by International law by the Geneva convention.
In practical terms Israel did not sacrifice a lot for the video. Most of the prisoners had already served 2/3 of their sentences and were due to be released soon. In Canada they would have been eligible for parole. Others had not been convicted and were still awaiting trial.
Unfortunately, Hamas gains are Israel's loss. The details of the prisoners are unimportant. All that will be remembered is 2o prisoners is worth a video tape. How much more will Israel have to sacrifice in order to get Shalit home. Any deal provides incentives for more kidnappings. PA elections are supposed to be coming next year. The West Bank under Fatah has prospered. Israel has been lifting economic restrictions and road blocks as the threat of terrorist attack have decreased. Hamas has brought nothing but suffering by engaging in attacks against civilians in Southern Israel. A tangible reward for their terrorist efforts could help their quest to stay in power.
The leaders of Israel have some very important decisions to make. I am no where need qualified to even begin to suggest what the correct decisions are. Gilad Shalit needs to come home and the saftey of all Israeli citizens needs to be protected. The Government has demonstrated that they are working hard towards these goals. It is possible that a final resolution may be close at hand. We can only hope and pray they will make the right decision.