Responses to the Cabinet's decision to release five terrorists, including Haran family murderer Samir Kuntar, in exchange for the bodies of two abducted Israeli soldiers have been fast in coming. Many of them, while expressing sympathy for the families of the captive soldiers, say the deal endangers Israel and its other soldiers.
Can't see video player? Click here for MK Steinitz on his opposition to terrorist release.
Indor: The Lebanon War Ended Today in a Fiasco
Col. (res.) Meir Indor, head of the Almagor Terror Victims Association, said in response to the Cabinet vote, "Hizbullah and Nasrallah have defeated the government of Israel, cleverly using terrorism and mass media, as well as the families of the captives, against the ministers. This strategy brought about the total downfall of the government's standing power, and a retreat from all its past promises not to cave in to the kidnappers..."
"The government must now explain to the 117 families of the soldiers who were killed in the war in Lebanon, and the dozens of families of civilians who were killed, why we went to war altogether," Indor said, "seeing as we could have just given in to the Hizbullah demands from the very beginning, without losing any lives, if we would have just released Kuntar right away! The bottom line is that the 2nd Lebanon War ended in a total fiasco."
Bachrach: Dangerous for Gilad Shalit
Dr. Aryeh Bachrach, head of the Bereaved Parents' Forum and spokesman for Almagor, said, "This deal, this surrender to Hizbullah, represents a total collapse of the government of Israel's standing power... The idea of giving live terrorists for dead bodies is dangerous for Gilad Shalit as well. After all, it is very difficult logistically for Hamas to keep him alive; why shouldn't they just shoot him in the head, in the knowledge that Israel pays high prices for dead bodies as well?"
Others have countered that the price Israel is expected to pay for Shalit is many times higher than that paid in the Hizbullah deal.
Israel will give four Hizbullah terrorists captured alive during the Second Lebanon War, bodies of eight Hizbullah terrorists, dozens of infiltrator and terrorist corpses and body parts, maps of Israeli mines in Lebanon, information on four Iranian diplomats who went missing in Beirut during Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, an unspecified number of Palestinian terrorist prisoners, and maps of Lebanese targets at which Israel fired cluster bombs during the last war.
In return, Israel will receive the bodies of abducted IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, as well as a detailed account of Hizbullah's account of its efforts to secure information on missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad.
Orlev: Time to Pull Together
MK Zevulun Orlev (NRP), head of the Knesset lobby for the return of the captive soldiers, said, "Even if the government performed poorly in the way it went about this deal, and even if there were correct and significant reasons to oppose the deal, now that the decision has been made, we must all unite behind it, put aside our differences and embrace the captives' families."
Rabbi Sadan: A Totally Illogical Deal
Rabbi Eli Sadan, head of the first pre-military yeshiva academy - Bnei David in Eli - says that the release of murderers and terrorists in exchange for corpses is blatantly illegal. "This is an insane act that encourages and strengthens the enemy," Rabbi Sadan told Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine. "I fail to understand why the sanctity of Jewish burial is more important than the sanctity of Jewish life."
"Anything that causes terrorists to return to the circle of murder is very grave," Rabbi Sadan said. "After many of these exchanges, many Israeli citizens paid with their lives. The question is, When exactly will someone in the State of Israel take responsibility to stop this madness?"
Mattot Arim: We Must Not Give Up
The Mattot Arim grassroots movement released this reaction: "We call on the public not to see today's government decision as the end of the story. We must continue to pressure the ministers to backtrack on their politically-correct vote, and begin to act only in accordance with the recommendation of the Mossad and Shabak (GSS) and not to carry out the terrorists-for-corpses deal. We recommend that the citizens of Israel not lose their nerve, but continue writing talkbacks on the internet against the collapse, in the best tradition of the democratic tradition of the resolute right-wing in Israel."
Ramon: Israel Forced Hizbullah to Give In
Vice Prime Minister Chaim Ramon (Kadima) said, "Until recently, I did not support the deal, because Hizbullah demanded the release of thousands, then 1,000, then 700 Palestinian prisoners. Only when they finally gave up and agreed to the formula that Israel would release Palestinian prisoners of a number and type that Israel itself would determine, did I agree to support the deal."
Steinitz: We Have Violated Two Basic Principles
MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud): "All I can say is that with this decision, the entire country has simply derailed. In the 70's, we were strong and said that we would not give into terrorists' demands - and accused the rest of the world of giving in. Now we are in a situation that we return live terrorists for bodies and body parts."
Steinitz also said that Israel cooperated with Hizbullah "for a full year in Hizbullah's deception that the captives might be alive. By doing so, we tricked ourselves and the families... In accepting this deal, we have violated two fundamental principles that will hurt our soldiers in the future. One is not to even enter into talks without having some prior information on the condition of the captives, via the Red Cross or whatever. The second principle is that we must not negotiate over corpses - as this encourages them to collect bodies from the battlefield, and certainly not to try to save or treat wounded Israeli soldiers, in the knowledge that we will pay top price even for corpses."