JERUSALEM – A number of Israeli high school students on the verge of being inducted into the IDF publicly called on Prime Minister Netanyahu not to trade high-profile terrorists for them in the event they fall into enemy hands.
On Tuesday, 12th-grade students from religious and secular backgrounds released the contents of a formal letter they sent Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
“As soldiers, we understand we are obligated to the security of the State of Israel, even if it means costing our freedom or even our lives,” the students wrote.
“We also call upon you to strictly limit the conditions of the murderers who are currently serving their sentences sitting in Israeli jails. The situation where murderers are able to study for academic degrees and enjoy sumptuous meals is a disgrace and intolerable.”
“History has taught us that the release of terrorists encourages more kidnappings,” 18-year-old Daniel Gabbai of Netivot told the daily Yediot Aharonot. Added 18- year-old Noam Sherlo of Efrat, “If terrorists understand we are not surrendering to terrorism, then the motivation to kidnap soldiers will decrease.”
While Netanyahu’s inner cabinet was set to debate changing the government’s policy regarding prisoner exchanges later this week, Ichud Leumi Knesset Member Uri Ariel filed a parliamentary motion on Monday to create a “pidyon shvuyim” (redemption of prisoners) law under which the government would not be allowed to exceed a one-for-one prisoner exchange, especially in the case of kidnapped Israeli soldiers.
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Awad had been released as part of the Gilad Shalit kidnapping deal. Mizrachi’s widow, Hadas, told Israeli reporters that she had opposed the release of murderers as part of any kidnapping deal, and that Awad “deserved the death penalty so he wouldn’t kill again.”
If the abductors’ goal was to force Israeli authorities to release long-serving Palestinian prisoners, the effort backfired as Israeli forces are quickly rolling up what was left of Hamas in the West Bank and are reportedly contemplating the overthrow of the Hamas leadership in Gaza should harm come to the three teenagers.