Tami Arad, wife of IAF navigator Ron Arad who has been MIA since his plane went down over Lebanon in 1986, wrote a letter Friday to mark the fifth anniversary of the kidnapping of soldier Gilad Shalit.
"For five years Israel has been divided into two camps: the camp that believes the release of terrorists in a prisoner swap is a disaster for Israel, and the camp saying the State of Israel's deterrence will not rise or fall on the shoulders of a lone soldier, or on the hands of a thousand murderers. It's no secret I belong to the second camp, the camp who will not accept defacto imprisonment, " Arad wrote.
"The difference between me and the opponents of the deal, worried about the fate of Israel due to the release of murderers, is that I watched with my own eyes the destruction of hope. When Yishai [Aviram], the pilot Ron flew with, was rescued hours after their crash, and came to our little apartment housing families in Ramat David, his face showed desperation . Gloom reigned in the apartment during those hours. Few believed Ron was alive."
"Later when we got the first letter from Ron, the one with pictures [of him] looking like [an] old Shiite... which we were asked to keep in great secrecy to protect negotiations, it was amazing. We were thrilled to tears behind closed doors. It was like a holiday. I was naively optimistic. I am convinced the picture of Ron is a troubled insurance certificate. 'Don't you dare cry,' with his beard and sad eyes... he was alive... his eyes scolded me. He was alive. A prisoner, sad but alive."
"The pictures came later," she related. "The letters and diary illustrated a nightmare life spent in captivity. I had no idea the letters were the easy part. They were followed by a silence that stretched into utter detachment and spoke bluntly uncompromising the absence. What began with great hope ended in a vacuum of 25 years."
"Even opponents of a prisoner deal do not wish on Gilad the fate of Ron, but they, they want to push Ron aside into dark corners. I do not have the privilege to close my eyes because when I close them I see him. Captive and defeated and gone. When I hear the voices that justify sacrificing Gilad for the State of Israel, and those that strengthen the prime minister in his reluctance [to make a deal], and who wish for Gilad to come home soon by way of some miracle, I'm sad."
"Very few people are thrown into a situation in which in Aviva and Noam have lived for five years. Very few people have to deal with surveys on the pros and cons of dealing for the life of their son. Very few people would accept the needs of the nation to sacrifice their son for the safety of others," Arad concluded her letter.