One hot story currently in the news involves a prisoner exchange between Israel and Palestine. Given the continual clashes between the two, I suppose a swap of detainees shouldn’t be too surprising. However, the terms of the deal do seem a little lopsided. In return for the release of one Israeli soldier, Israel is letting one thousand and twenty-seven Palestinians go free. 1,207 to 1!
Now if you think that those numbers aren’t quite fair, just wait, it gets better (or worse, depending on your perspective). According to the Washington Post, approximately two hundred and eighty of these Palestinians to be released are imprisoned for killing Israelis.
Of course, it is a matter of national pride when a foreign nation captures one of their soldiers. It makes a country appear weak when they cannot save one of their own fighters. But focusing exclusively on this sort of mentality misses the larger picture.
What becomes of the memory of the civilians and soldiers killed by these two hundred and eighty? Are their deaths meaningless? Do they not deserve justice? And, just as important a factor to consider, once released, who will stop these two hundred and eighty people from rearming and killing the people of Israel once more? We are told that the worst are going to be exiled, but exile is not nearly as safe an option as prison or execution.
If my government, either the United States or Virginia, agreed to free convicted murderers in exchange for the life of one soldier, I believe that most Americans would be outraged and rightly so. Murderers should not be treated like bargaining chips.
If history serves as any sort of guide, I do not believe that these kinds of deals will resolve tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians. After all, according to an article on Wikipedia, these lopsided exchanges are common. “Over the last 30 years, Israel has released about 7,000 Palestinian prisoners to secure freedom for 19 Israelis and to retrieve the bodies of eight others.”
This exchange will only embolden the radicals within the Palestinian community and they will continue to kill Israelis. Think about it logically for a moment. After all, once enough of their brethren have been imprisoned, they can simply barter for their release by capturing another Israeli soldier. Rinse and repeat. The seemingly never-ending cycle of violence continues.
My greatest sympathy rests with the families of the innocent civilians who have been mercilessly slain…and those who will become new victims in the future.
Sounds like a raw deal to me.