Commenting on his support for the prisoner swap between Israel and Hezbollah, Israel’s minister for infrastructure, Benyamin Ben Eliezer, reportedly declared that “When I voted in favor, standing before my eyes was the suffering of the families . . . We want every mother to know that Israel will do its utmost in order to return her son when he is in the guard.” These are noble words, but one gets the impression that Minister Ben Eliezer, alongside his colleagues who supported the deal, focused too much on the families of Israel’s two prisoners in Lebanon (who are presumed dead) and forgot the family of a third prisoner, Gilad Shalit, who is most likely still alive and in Gaza. Will this deal make it easier for the Shalit family? Will it make it more likely for him to come home alive? Hard to fathom. As Bret Stephens says today in the Wall Street Journal,
But whatever happens, Israel has once again demonstrated to its enemies that their strategy of taking hostages works. Worse, it works even when those hostages are killed. If Regev and Goldwasser are dead, the situation of Cpl. Shalit – and any other Israeli who might be taken alive by Hezbollah or its ilk – becomes infinitely more precarious.
For this, Shalit and his family must thank Ben Eliezer and the Israeli government. Had the two Israeli soldiers been alive, this would have been an understandable dilemma – and a deal which would not necessarily jeopardise Shalit’s life. But as it may turn out, Israel capitulated for a bag of bones. It is the perfect recipe to get some more.