Editorial Note – SUA brings you two articles; first, the long awaited release of Gilad Shalit, kidnapped by Gazans in 2006, the second article is commentary on how ridiculous this whole negotiation process has played out. The diminutive Shalit shown below, is home, a prisoner for over 5 years. The price for the release was years of missiles flying overhead into civilian neighborhoods, the release of over a thousand ‘Palestinian’ prisoners, and the breakdown of the notion that one should never negotiate with terrorists. The terrorists won, again, as Israel capitulated, again, and the road to peace is once again shown to be paved with broken glass and lies.

SUA wonders, what price should a free democratic nation of law-abiding peaceful people pay to stay free? Israel has given, given again, and again…ad nauseum. Yet, the world still vilifies every step they take. An innocent young soldier is kidnapped by thugs, yet tried and true criminals and terrorists go free, defying logic, again! We are very glad he is now home; and his life is his own again, or soon will be, once the celebrity and debriefings wane away. We do salute the resolve that all soldiers should be brought home, but the price is very dear indeed. The winners are the actual losers of every battle they wage, but propaganda and horrid negotiations defines its own end, and so the criminal gets to declare a sick, convoluted, hollow victory.

The Guardian UK

Israeli intelligence officials are planning to wait for at least several days before beginning the delicate process of debriefing Gilad Shalit on his five years and four months in captivity in Gaza at the hands of Palestinian militants.

The soldier, who was freed on Tuesday in a deal involving the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, is expected to be questioned by military intelligence and other agencies for information about his captors, the location and conditions in which he was held, and any other details he can provide.

Gilad Shalit outside his home in Mitzpe Hila, Israel. Photograph: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

But the priority is to establish his physical and psychological health, according to military and government sources. “Of course, he will be debriefed, but we will put first ensuring his wellbeing is taken care of,” said one official.

An army source said: “Right now we want him to be with his family and for his health conditions to be stable.”

Following his first night at home, Shalit went for a walk with his mother, Aviva, in Mitzpe Hila well away from reporters and TV crews still gathered in the small community, near the Lebanese border. Noam Shalit said his son was feeling well and had slept through the night.

Police barriers were still blocking the road where the family lives and said officers would be stationed in Mitzpe Hila for at least a week at the family’s request.

An army psychologist was on hand and Shalit was expected to undergo further medical examinations, including dental and orthopaedic tests, in the coming days. After initial assessments, doctors said he was suffering from malnutrition and the effects of being deprived of natural light. One source suggested he was weak and was having difficulty in managing stairs.

Israeli officials are more concerned about Shalit’s physical health than his psychological state, saying that the interview he gave to Egyptian television within minutes of his release had shown his mind was sound. The fact that he had access to television and radio during his captivity would have helped his mental state, said one source.

All medical care, including trauma counselling, will be funded by the state of Israel indefinitely. Shalit has also been given non-commissioned officer status by the Israeli army, which will provide him with a salary.

Speaking to the media after returning to the family home on Tuesday evening, Noam Shalit said his son was having difficulty in coping with the attention surrounding his release. “Naturally he can’t be exposed to so many people because he was in isolation so many days and years and couldn’t interact with people in his language and all he could do was communicate with his abductors and guards,” Noam Shalit said.

Shimshon Liebman, who chaired the Shalit campaign committee for the past three years, received offers of help, including from a professor of nutrition and a masseur. Despite his physical weakness, doctors were encouraging Shalit to “take his first steps at home”, he said.

“I don’t know if he has a lot to tell,” he said, referring to the intelligence debriefing. “But they will ask him very gently, and slowly, slowly.”

The debriefing process may provide an insight into how Shalit’s captors held him for more than five years without Israel succeeding in obtaining intelligence about his whereabouts, according to Uri Bar-Joseph, professor of international relations at Haifa University.

“They will want to know how many people was he in touch with, whether they brought him cooked food, what information they let him have, whether he had access to doctors. How you keep a kidnapped soldier for such a long time,” he said. “It’s possible they would like to know also what [Shalit] told them.”

Any information could be useful in dealing with a future kidnapping, he said, but it would be unlikely to be of “operational value”.

According to an opinion poll taken on the eve of Shalit’s release and published in Israel Hayom, 29.1% of respondents said their opinion of the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, was “more positive” as a result of the prisoner-swap deal. Just over 58% said their opinion had not changed, and 8.7% said it was “more negative”.

Gilad Shalit will be allowed time with his family before debriefing

Israeli officials say they will establish the freed soldier’s physical and psychological health before asking about his captors


National Review Opinion – The Corner

By Seth Leibsohn

The idea that Israel would negotiate with terrorists is appalling, and yet it has been true for too long. It is also true that it has accounted for nothing but more innocent blood being shed.

According to the Jerusalem Post, over 180 Israelis have been killed since 2004 by prisoners/terrorists that Israel has released since then. Let’s say that number is too high by half: Wouldn’t 90 be astounding? Say that number is off by half again: Wouldn’t even 45 be astounding?

Now I read that over the last 30 years, Israel has released about 7,000 Palestinian prisoners to secure freedom for 19 Israelis and to retrieve the bodies of eight others. That isn’t disproportionate, that’s madness. It seems to me a far saner policy would be that when a soldier is taken, the government gives 24-hours notice that if he’s not returned, the area where he was captured will face holy hell — door-to-door searches, home razings — holy hell. Over 1,000 terrorists are a lot of terrorists, and now we read it may include two terrorists involved in the Sbarro pizza-parlor bombing as well, and that it definitely includes a terrorist who received 36 life sentences for a 2002 attack in a Jerusalem bar that killed eleven Israelis and another terrorist who killed 29 Israelis at a Passover celebration.

I can’t think of a scenario where the American people would tolerate the return of a soldier captured on the battlefield of Iraq or Afghanistan (be it a general or a private) if the price were even one Gitmo detainee. Now it’s true we have returned Gitmo detainees, many of whom have rejoined the battlefield. But that was never in exchange for prisoners, it was done out of what we might call “the mercy of fools.” And it’s been bad policy. Finally, wasn’t the nadir of the Reagan presidency the idea of weapons for hostages — never mind terrorists for hostages? When that story broke, Reagan’s popularity dropped over 20 points in 1986. To paraphrase Kipling, “For the end of this game is oppression and shame, and the nation that plays it is lost.”