Dr. Aryeh Bachrach a representative of the Almagor Terror Victims Association, which sponsored Shachar’s petition, added, “We think this is an example of the collapse of the justice system, of the government.”
And it’s no secret what these liberated terrorists will do after their release. Shachar predicts that “Kuntar is going to become even worse than just the right hand of Nasrallah . . . .This isn’t just any terrorist. When he is in charge of a new terror organization, we’ll say we’re sorry that we didn’t listen to the Shachar family.”
Kuntar actually promised this to Nasrallah, in a letter published in the Palestinian Authority’s daily newspaper al-Havat al-Jadida on May 30:
I give you my promise and oath that my only place will be in the fighting front soaked with the sweat of your giving and with the blood of the shahids, the dearest people, and that I will continue your way until we reach a full victory. I send my best wishes and promise of renewed loyalty to you, sir, and to all the Jihad fighters.
But a more immediate consequence of Israel’s policy may be the conclusions Hamas, which is still holding Shalit, will draw.
If Israel will make deals for dead soldiers, there is no reason for Hamas to keep Shalit alive. Alternatively, if Shalit is kept alive, Hamas knows Israel will be willing to pay more for his release since it was willing to pay so dearly for the release of dead soldiers.
And Hamas has definitely drawn conclusions. The Jerusalem Post reported that Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar called Israel’s decision “a major development . . . .Israel has agreed to release prisoners who it says have blood on their hands. We must therefore seize the opportunity and seek the release of our prisoners . . . .There should be no difference between the case of Shalit and the case of Kuntar.”
So why, after two years of doing nothing and having officially concluded that the soldiers were dead, did the Israeli government now act so hastily as to allow — perhaps without realizing it — Hizbullah to accomplish the specific war aims it proclaimed openly two years ago? And why would the government trade five terrorists for two dead soldiers?
Politics, of course.
No doubt the underlying reason for the deal was the desire to dispose of the political liability of having kidnapped soldiers still held captive during election season.
Olmert will face challengers in primaries within his own party as early as September. Shortly thereafter he and his Kadima party will face a general election in which, all polls indicate, they will lose handily to Likud leader and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The way Olmert no doubt sees it, his having finally taken some sort of action on the matter of the kidnapped soldiers will make it harder for Netanyahu to hammer away at the prime minister for his inaction.
Hopefully, however, Netanyahu will not be deterred by what amounts to yet one more failure on the part of Olmert and his colleagues.