Gilad Shalit’s Return
by Elana Golub on Friday, October 28th, 2011
As an eighteen-year-old Israeli citizen, Gilad Shalit was compelled to enter the army and serve for a minimum of three years. During his second year of service, Gilad was imprisoned by the terrorist organization Hamas and was stowed in a secret location from which he was unable to be rescued. Now, after over five years of negotiation, Gilad has been freed in exchange for the liberty of 1,0271 Palestinian prisoners. This trade, despite Gilad’s long awaited freedom, was a highly controversial point among members of the Milton Community.”His release was a small battle that Israel had been fighting for five years, and Israel won,” says Ali Golden (II). “Seeing Gilad Shalit, who survived Hamas captivity for so long, gave Israelis’ hope and a renewed purpose to keep fighting.”
Gilad’s release also instilled current and soon to be members of the Israeli army with a new sense of confidence. “Having the reassurance that the country will be willing to go to that length for one soldier is important in a country with a military service that is mandatory” explains Alex Garnick (IV).
This negotiation between Israel and Palestine can been seen as a step towards peace. “I see this as a positive event as it shows that Hamas and Israel can reach a compromise on a very difficult issue,” says Mr. Emmott, Milton’s teacher of Middle Eastern studies. “The release of Shalit removes a very emotional obstacle to further discussion and compromise that to date has hindered real progress.”
Some have worried that, despite the trade’s benefits, Israel has much to lose in that Palestine may see this event as evidence of Israel’s vulnerability. “This trade will make the Palestinians think that Israel is like putty in their hands and that, with the brutal capture of a soldier, they can make Israel do whatever they want,” says Mykayla Sandler (III). Mykayla states, “It will give the Palestinians even more confidence and more desire to wipe out Israel.” “If anything, Palestine now has the upper-hand,” adds Ali Golden.
Although the Palestinians released were seen as heroes in Palestine, they were considered terrorists in Israel: “It is also important to sympathize with the families of those who had relatives who were murdered, and how their murderers were released in order to facilitate Gilad Shalit’s return,” says Josh Pomper (II)
Many still wonder if it is possible to know whether this one compromise could in fact lead to future peace or at least a more humane relationship. “I think we could possibly see more violence in the future,” stated Gina Starfield (I). “Several Palestinians released have voiced their goal to continue fighting. The conflict has only become more layered and complex.”
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