Sunday, May 18, 2008

18-May-08: Freeing murderers? Now?

With two Israelis dead and many more injured from missiles fired at Sderot and Ashkelon in the past two weeks, Israel should be fuming.

Reason would demand that our forces stand poised for a massive assault against the terrorists in Hamas-ruled Gaza whose Qassams and Grads have brazenly violated our sovereignty.

Instead we learn today that Israel is preparing to make yet another astonishing concession. As reported in today's Jerusalem Post ("Israel agreed to release 71 prisoners"), the government is close to signing a cease-fire agreement with Hamas that will include the release of Palestinians who murdered Israeli civilians.

Inexplicably, at a moment when Hamas is shivering at the prospect of an all-out Israeli retaliation, a threat that our Minister for Defense, Ehud Barak, has been whispering aloud about for weeks, our leaders see fit to buckle under.

The taboo against freeing "prisoners with blood on their hands", adhered to by Israel for years, is about to be violated. Now, when we are confronted by existential enemies looming on every border, is the worst time to reverse this policy.

The message of weakness that this move conveys must be music to their ears.

But the decision, perverse though it is, should not surprise us. Terrorism and its victims are rarely mentioned in Israel anymore. Certainly not by our leaders. Consequently, the prospect of freeing convicted terrorists "with blood on their hands" has grown quite acceptable.

After all, the hundreds of lives those murderers cut short, the pain they inflicted on the grieving families, is for many here ancient history. And if the immediacy of those losses is not felt, why bother to keep their murderers imprisoned?

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