Monday, June 26, 2006

Corporal Gilad Shalit -- Israeli hostage in Gaza

This is a news story that is about to happen. Big. But at this moment everyone is holding his breath. It seems that even journalists are exercising care in how they report what is happening.
Haaretz has details.

Corporal Gilad Shalit was abducted in the pre-dawn attack on his tank, in which two of the members of his four-strong crew were killed and the third seriously wounded.

A pamphlet sent to local Gaza media outlets Monday and signed by the three groups said that they would only release information on the fate of Shalit if Israel freed Palestinian women and minors incarcerated in Israeli prisons.

The IDF believes that the leaflet, attributed to Iz al-Din al-Qassam, is authentic.

According to recent figures, Israel currently has 95 Palestinian women and 313 under-18s in its prisons.

"This is a tense moment..."

Jonathan Edelstein is the most credible analyst I know, but he refers readers to Robert Rosenberg. The political dynamics are elaborate. Much is at stake for all parties.

This is a tense moment in local history. If Abbas and Haniyeh can’t find a way to release the captured soldier, they will face the wrath of the Israelis, who may not hesitate to take action to bring down the Hamas government. If they cannot find a way to work together on the problem, their efforts at resolving their differences over the ‘national dialogue consensus document’ also known as the Prisoners’ Document, which was ostensibly near completion just two days ago, could disintegrate into what they fear most -- a Somalia-like breakdown into gang warfare, or a full-scale civil war between the Islamist Hamas and the secular Fateh.

The Israelis, meanwhile, are loath to return to Gaza on foot or even in armor. As one columnist wrote today, Gaza may be sandy but it is really quicksand. But hell hath no fury like the Israeli defense establishment fearing it has lost its deterrent capabilities. The lack of military authority in the prime minister’s office and defense minister’s office could mean that the army sets the policy for how to respond to what happened or happens to Corporal Gilad Shalit.

On the other hand, Olmert and Peretz have managed, once they sensed the IDF overstepped itself, to restrain it. The next 24-48 hours are critical. By then, given predilection among Palestinian militants for bragging, the missing soldier’s whereabouts should be known to all concerned. The Israelis won’t have any patience to wait for Abbas, Haniyeh or the Egyptians to talk the captors into releasing the corporal. They’ll want action -- and if the Palestinians don’t do it, they will. One bright spot on the diplomatic front -- the kidnapped soldier has a French passport, so the French government is trying to use its not inconsiderable influence in the Arab world to win the soldier’s freedom. But as the American ambassador to Israel said, the entire affair is further proof of the Hamas government’ ‘inability to control its own affairs, let alone provide for the needs of the Palestinian people.’

Much more at the links...

Jimmy Carter, where are you? Mr. Kissinger? Anyone?
I don't think there is anyone left in Washington with the credentials or credibility to risk comment, much less attempting mediation. No longer in vogue, you know.
C'mon, Karen Hughes, make me look stupid!

For a reflection on what might happen next, go here.
“Even though it is true,” continues Rav Shaul Yisraeli, “that the life of every captive is in danger, there is a difference between the danger of captivity and clear and immediate danger, such as in the time of the Crusades and the terrible massacres of the Middle Ages. That being a case of certain danger, there exists no limitation on the resources that can and should be expended in the redemption of captives - notwithstanding the risk that this practice will provide an incentive for further kidnappings - because certain danger takes precedence over doubtful danger. According to this principle, it follows that, in the event of the seizure of hostages, which is a case of clear and palpable danger, all concerns for the future are to be swept aside, in order to save the hostages from the real danger with which they are confronted at this moment.

And for another view, go here.
I know with absolute certainty that there is no price I would not pay to secure the release of my son if (G- forbid) he were ever taken hostage by the enemy. I would endanger the lives of 100... or even 1000... other people's sons, and would throw open the doors of every prison in the land if it would mean having my precious son home again safe and sound. I would even gladly exchange my own life for the chance to let my son marry, have children and enjoy a full life of his own.

This is the reason why fathers should not make the decisions in such cases... and why the depths of an individual father's love for his son should never be considered by the government in matters of national security. The government must be strong when the soul of every mother and father in the land screams out that this one life must be saved at any cost... because the alternative is to allow ourselves to become a nation held hostage.

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