Gilad Shalit: Israel Succumbs to Ransom

On July 4th, 1976, Yonatan Netanyahu, older brother of the Prime Minister, commanded a successful operation to rescue 118 hostages from abductors in Entebbe who had demanded the release of 57 murderers in exchange. Not today.

David Bedein,

OpEds David Bedein
David Bedein
credit David Michael Cohen

When Israel succumbs to the ransom demanded by a regime which has kidnapped a citizen of the free world, that creates a precedent that will reverberate across the globe.

Despite their desire to see Cpl. Gilad Shalit home, safe and sound, most Israelis seethe at the possibility that it might indeed trade hundreds of lethal convicts in exchange for an Israeli whom Hamas has managed to abduct. 

Freeing these convicts will place highly motivated killers on the streets of Israel AND create an incentive for Hamas to kidnap anyone else in the world and demand an even greater ransom in the future for their freedom.

This ransom arrangement will establish an international precedent that would communicate:  Abductions Pay..

Our agency interviewed 12 of these convicts who would be released, each of whom promise to return to the path of murder, if released.

In Israel, those who most feel the greatest injustice in their guts are the family members of the 1,478 people murdered by these convicts since the inception of the negotiations with the PLO  in 1993.

However, the Israeli media has delivered a monolithic message, as if the only way to free the one kidnapped Israeli citizen in Gaza, Corporal Gilad Shalit, would be to trade hundreds of lethal murderers for his freedom.
There is another option: The government of Israel can clamp a complete and total economic shut down of Gaza until the Gaza regime hands over a kidnapped citizen of Israel that it now holds for ransom.

There is one possible reason why Israel has not applied that option: According to a study released by Globes, Israel's daily business paper, Israeli firms export 2.7 billion shekels of products to the Palestinian Authority.

An economic boycott would cause Israeli firms to lose profits.

One of the Israelis firms that would express outrage at an economic slowdown in Gaza would be Dor Alon, Israel's leading gasoline conglomerate, which owns a contract as the primary supplier of gasoline to Gaza.

The new owners of "Dor Alon" now include former Israel Finance Minister, Beiga Shochat, and son of the the former head of the World Jewish Congress, Matthew Bronfman.

Another Israeli firm that does business in Gaza is Nesher, Israel's cement cooperative, which is owned in part by the influential former Israel Defense Forces Commander in Chief, Amnon Lipkin Shahak.

The time has come to demand an economic boycott of the Gaza regime instead of a surrender to the Gaza regime , to forestall the freedom of convicted killers. It is not too late.

Israel's foreign ministry could mobilize voices of reason across  the world who will call for Israel to stand strong and not to agree to any such ransom.

The message of Israel and the free world to Gaza must be: Your regime needs an economy. To have any economy, your regime must hand over the young man whom it has kidnapped.

A postscript: On July 4th, 1976,  a senior Israeli army officer, Yonatan  Netanyahu, the older brother of Israel's current Prime Minister, commanded  an successful military operation  to rescue  118 hostages from the hands of abductors in Entebbe who demanded the release of  57 convicts who were serving time for murder in Israeli jails, in exchange for the lives of the hostages.

Yonathan Netanyahu paid for that mission with his life.

Perhaps Yonatan's younger brother should visit  his grave at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem and learn a lesson from his older brother about what it means to stand up to those who hold people hostage in exchange for murderers.