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Top Pundit: Did Yoni Netanyahu Die in Vain?

Maariv's influential Libeskind says Netanyahu's deal with Hamas means his brother may have been killed for nothing.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 10/25/2011, 11:19 AM

Yoni, Bibi, Gilad
Yoni, Bibi, Gilad
Montage: Gil Ronen

An influential pundit offers scathing criticism of the Shalit deal, and hints that in its wake, Binyamin Netanyahu's heroic brother Yoni may have died for nothing.

Kalman Libeskind's latest column is headlined: "Now we can ask – what did Yoni Netanyahu give his life for?"

Libeskind recalls how Israel gradually changed its gung-ho approach to terrorist ransom demands, after the 1970s.

In 1985, he writes, on the day that Israel signed a deal with Ahmed Jibril's terror group to release 1,150 terrorists in return for three abducted soldiers, a Torah scroll was welcomed into the religious high school in Tzfat in memory of 22 children from the town who were killed in the terror attack in Maalot, in 1974.

Meir Amrusi, whose daughter Malka was killed in that massacre, spoke at the ceremony and recalled how, 11 years earlier, the families of the children who were held hostage in Maalot begged then-IDF Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur to give in to the terrorists' demands, and how Gur said "we must not give in to blackmail because surrendering today will mean double the surrender tomorrow."

Amrusi said: "We accepted his words. We understood that this principle is a very important one. And today, they have forgotten all that they said then and released 1,150 terrorists whose hands are stained with blood."

Two years after the Maalot massacre, Israel freed the hostages at Entebbe. The commander of the IDF's elite Sayaret Matkal, Yoni Netanyahu, was killed in the daring raid.

"This week," writes Libeskind, it seems we can again hear the echo of Meir Amrusi's cry. Thirty five years after we lost the commander of Sayeret Matkal and four hostages, we can ask out loud why there was a need to pay such a high price? Why couldn't we give in to the terrorists' demands and release a few dozen of their friends, a completely reasonable price compared to the number of hostages they held? In view of the new price tag set by Binyamin Netanyahu, is it out of place to ask if his brother did not die in vain?"

Libeskind accuses Netanyahu's bureau of "spitting in the face" of bereaved families by not providing a full list of the terrorists to be freed along with the attacks they committed and the names of the people they murdered.

"If Binyanin Netanyahu showed enough leadership to decide on the deal, as he said about himself, he should be brave enough to publish its price in an orderly fashion," said the journalist.

Libeskind did not spare the rod from his fellow journalists either. Whereas in the Jibril deal it was the mother of one of the abducted soldiers, Miriam Grof, who put relentless pressure on the government to vote for the deal, in the Shalit deal it was the press, he explains.

"The credit for the deal, therefore, is all ours," he writes. "Now may journalists can pick out 'their terrorist' from the list, the one on whose release – possibly because of them – the terrorists refused to compromise. And tomorrow, when the next terror attacks and the next soldier is abducted, it is important that we remember that some of the blood is on our hands."