Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held hostage for five years by the terrorist organization Hamas, was finally released on October 18, 2011. In exchange for Shalit, Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, made a deal to free 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Because of this, the day was filled with happiness, relief and a sense of terror.
“We are a people who knows far too well how to mingle joy with tears, how to celebrate freedom and honor sacrifice, how to temper exultation with sensitivity to pain,” Rabbi Gordon Bernat-Kunin, rabbinic director, said.
Many months have gone by, allowing people time to digest and contemplate the initial situation, causing numerous opinions and controversies to disseminate across the Jewish community. The beliefs vary from fears that the prisoners will have the urge to cause more terrorist attacks to hesitation on how Netanyahu will create peace in the West Bank after freeing so many dangerous people.
“I know Israel was joyful to have their soldier back and this is really a core idea for Israel, that they will not leave their soldiers behind,” an anonymous member of the Jewish community said.
“I think getting Gilad back lifted the spirits of Israelis. It is moments like this that empower and motivate people,” another anonymous member from the Jewish community said.
The freedom of Shalit filled most with overall happiness. However, then people remember the price paid for his release, and many still question whether or not this was a fair trade and if Israel will stay safe.
“It was not a fair trade. But think of this in the opposite direction. Is a life of one Israeli soldier equal to 1000 terrorists? Of course not! There is no amount, high or low, for the value of life. The life of any innocent human being should not be under a risk of a terrorist attack. These released prisoners are classified as terrorists and it’s going to be a challenge to the world, alone to Israel,” Ms. Ronit Shaltiel, Hebrew teacher, said.
Many feel that Israel needs to be careful about how large the next trade may be.
“I think that there is legitimate fear that Israel will be greatly affected by the higher price that she will have to pay in a future attack if she decides to go for a trade of any kind,” Shaltiel said.