Eight years ago this week, IDF Armored Corps soldier Gilad Shalit was taken captive by Hamas. Five years later, over 1,000 terrorists were freed in exchange for Shalit, and on last Pesach eve, one of those terrorists murdered police officer Col. Baruch Mizrahi. This chain of events has shocked Hagit Rhein, whose son Benaya died a hero's death in the Second Lebanon War.
"After the terror attack, when I visited the Mizrahi family home on the shiva and I hoped with all my heart that the terrorist was not among those freed in the Shalit deal, I had no idea how quickly that prophecy would be realized. I was so upset to hear that these forebodings turned out to be true,” she told Arutz Sheva.
The lesson, she said, is that the prime minister must not run the country on the basis of feelings and emotional pressure. “When they were discussing the Shalit deal, I sent a letter to the prime minister,” she recalled. “I wrote him that Benaya wrote us during the war that even if he is taken captive, he asks not to release a single terrorist in exchange for his freedom. I asked the prime minister not to decide on a course of action because of pressure or parents' tears, but to reach a diplomatic decision based on the good of the entire nation.”
Israel has not learned from the past, Rhein said regretfully. “The present abduction of the three youths, who I hope will return home safely, happened because of the release of terrorists in the Shalit deal. Because if the enemy sees that we arrest [terrorists] and then free [them], then the enemy keeps on abducting.”
"I feel, today, eight years after the abduction and after the war that broke out after it, that we have learned nothing. Our soldiers risk their lives, go from house to house in search of the abductees, but the political echelon has learned nothing.”
Rhein is encouraged by the love that the public is showing the soldiers. “Eight years ago, my son went to war following an abduction, and now my second son is looking for the abductees. Today, too, there are many people who send packages of sweets to the soldiers. We sent out an entire truckload today, only for soldiers. In Raanana, we collected thousands of items in the synagogues and the schools, and that is important, because the soldier who is in the field and suddenly puts a sweet in his mouth, knows that someone is thinking about him.”