Today a cease-fire started between Israel and Hamas. 50 hostages, or about 1/5th of the hostages abducted by Hamas, are supposed to be released, against 150 Palestinian terrorists held by Israel. At first Hamas is said to release 13 hostages this afternoon.
The last time Israel swapped Palestinian prisoners for hostages was in 2011. That year Israel released 1,027 Palestinian prisoners – many of whom were murderers – for one Israeli captive: the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Palestinian terrorist groups had infiltrated Israel via tunnels and abducted Shalit in a cross-border raid five years earlier. In a way, it was a precursor of what would happen on October 7.
A Look at Recent History
The Palestinian prisoners released in the 2011 Shalit deal were celebrated as heroes by (most of) the Palestinian brothers and sisters. Practically all of the released prisoners returned to what they knew best – terrorism. Take for example Yahya Sinwar, the top figure behind the barbaric October 7 attack against Israel. After his release he returned to Gaza to become the leader of Hamas and the “government” in the independent Gaza Strip. Today he is the most powerful man within the Hamas terror organization. In his speeches and in his deeds he relentlessly instigates genocide against the Jews.
A short glimpse at his biography reveals that he studied at Gaza university, a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood and a breeding ground for Islamic extremism. Sinwar became one of the founders of Hamas in 1987 and headed its “intelligence service”, a euphemism for killing any fellow Palestinian who has a different opinion. Sinwar was arrested in 1988 and spent 23 years in Israeli prison, during which time he attacked fellow Palestinians simply for talking to Israelis. A recent speech at the UN by Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a Hamas founder and former prisoner in and later spy for Israel, gives a glimpse into the life and ideology of a Hamas operative.
When Hamas attacked Israel on 10/7 and captured the hostages, they knew what a bargaining chip they have. These days Israels government had some tough choices to make:
- Continue the Israeli military offensive against Hamas to shorten the war and minimize both Israeli and Palestinian casualties.
- Find and rescue the hostages, at the risk of having them killed by Hamas or by accident through Israeli attacks.
Or cave in to the demands from Hamas that will:
- Help the terror group reorganize and reinforce their positions.
- Allow Hamas to booby-trap tunnels, roads, etc. to kill as many Israeli soldiers as possible, along with Palestinian bystanders.
- Give Hamas the chance to build a human shield of fellow Palestinians who would be sacrificed in their fight against the “Jewish oppressor”.
- Help Hamas leaders to evade from capture by Israel.
- Prevent Israel from flying over Gaza to monitor the military activities of Hamas, for 6 hours every day. This in itself shows that Hamas plans to use the cease-fire for military purposes.
- Have Israel allow gasoline to be delivered to Hamas (guess why – certainly not for altruistic purposes).
- Force Israel to release 150 Palestinian prisoners, most of whom are terrorists who killed or tried to kill Jews.
- Pronounce a victory by the Hamas terror regime and their supporters worldwide and encourage the genocide against Jews.
- Free only 50 of the nearly 240 hostages in the hands of Hamas, leaving the rest at the mercy of terrorists.
This would be a tough choice for any government. But for Israel it is even tougher. Because every Israeli adult knows perfectly well that there is no chance Israel can win this uneven war. Whichever choice the Israeli government or war time cabinet makes, Israel is going to be the looser. (That will cheer up many “pro-Palestinian” demonstrators.)
Wait a second, did I say uneven war? Of course it is, Israel has one of the strongest armies in the world, you might say. This is true, but Israel is facing an uphill fight. Consider this: Israel is a small 9 million citizen island (including 2 million Arabs) within a Muslim-dominated ocean of around 1.8 billion people. For each Israeli there are 200 Muslims. The Middle East alone counts 410 million Arabs, and most of the population is hostile to Israel (thanks Al Jazeera etc., you did a great job!). Add to that Iran who arms and sponsors Hamas, the Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthi in Jemen, and deploys its own forces along the Israeli border in Syria. (Note: During the current war all of them attacked Israel.)
When I write “uneven” I mean something totally different: Israel is fighting a war of defense against an enemy who attacked Israel in a most vicious way and does not adhere to any rules. Fire rockets that accidentally hit your own hospitals? No problem, blame Israel (the international news picked up on that without checking any facts)! Fire rockets at the civilian population in Israel – who cares? Hold hostages including babies – is that according to the Geneva convention?
Basically Hamas and their fellow terror organizations defy each and every human rule of conduct, let alone the agreed upon rules of war. On the other side Israel, which was attacked, must be allowed to defend itself and protect its population from current and future attacks. How can Israel achieve this?
Life versus Death
Israels government has chosen to accept the conditions presented by Hamas. Some of the hostages will be returned. But it still is a terrible deal for Israel. It’s a total submission to terror. We all know that those Palestinian terrorists released from Israeli prison will be continuing in what they are good in – killing Jews (and the random bystanders who happen to be there).
On the other hand, Israels decision to accept the deal is a decision to value life higher than anything else. And despite my knowing that this decision will haunt us in the future, I’m proud of a people who value life higher than anything. I support life for the hostages rather than death to the Hamas terrorists, despite the certainty that the released Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists will continue to kill Jews whenever and wherever they can.