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Posts Tagged ‘Sayeret Matkal’

PM Reflects on First Recording of Brother Yoni’s Voice

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his brother Iddo sat quietly in his office, together with Ronny Daniel of Channel 2 TV and a camera crew. They listened intently as a technician played for the first time a recording of their older brother Yoni being debriefed following a 1972 operation in which he participated with his elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit. Code named Argaz 3, the undercover unit had grabbed five senior Syrian officers in southern Lebanon. Younger Netanyahu brothers had also participated in the operation.

Save for one television interview, this is the only recording of Binyamin Netanyahu’s older brother’s voice. Channel 2′s report was timed for Israel’s Yom HaZikaron — Israel’s Memorial Day, the Remembrance for Fallen Soldiers.

After asking the Netanyahus about their emotional reactions to the recording, journalist Ronny Daniel had some tougher questions for the prime minister.

The issue of terrorist attacks and abductions and the price paid by Israeli society in return has been a delicate and very sore point in the Jewish State. Israel was known for decades as the one nation that would under no circumstances ever negotiate with terrorists, regardless of cost. Over the past decade, negotiations with terrorists have resulted in freedom for thousands of murderers with Jewish blood on their hands. Some of those were freed by Binyamin Netanyahu himself.

His older brother Yoni Netanyahu died in the 1976 counter terrorist raid on Uganda’s Entebbe Airport in a rescue mission to free hostages being held by terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and German Revolutionary Cells. The terrorists who hijacked an Air France plane on board had separated Israeli and Jews from the rest of the 248 passengers on board the aircraft, placing them in another room. Ultimately all non-Jewish passengers were let go, with the exception of the pilot, Captain Bacos, who together with the Jews being held hostage was threatened with death.

The IDF, acting on intelligence from Israel’s international Mossad agency, carried out a long distance 90 minute rescue operation involving 100 commandos and support from Kenya. Five soldiers were wounded and the unit commander – Lt.-Col. Yonatan Netanyahu – was killed during the operation. All the hijackers, three hostages and 45 Ugandan soldiers were also killed.

“We used to behave differently, in order to bring back pilots who fell captive,” Daniel commented after hearing the recording. “We abducted, we acted, we blew things up… today it is different. So what has changed? Is it them? Us? Reality?”

Netanyahu’s reply was that of the political leader who dances simultaneously at ten weddings, with more than a few in hidden venues.

“In those places where we can act, we do act. Believe me, we also take action in many things that are not known, and may not become known in another 42 years, either.”

“Yes, but we still release all sorts of murderers from the jails, in order to set a soldier free, and we do not do all sorts of aggressive things in order to make them set him free – taking [former kidnapped IDF soldier] Gilad Shalit as an example.”

Gilad Shalit was held hostage in Gaza by Hamas terrorists for more than five years after being abducted by operatives from three Hamas-affiliated terrorist organizations in a cross-border raid near the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Israel. He was freed in a prisoner swap deal in October 2011 that required Israel to free more than 1,000 Palestinian Authority Arab terrorists being held in Israeli prisons.

“If you knew, you’d take action,” retorted Netanyahu. “Our main problem is that we did not know,” he said, confirming the reports of various sources throughout the Shalit captive years who told journalists operatives were having a problem fixing a location on the kidnapped soldier. Military sources kept saying quietly that terrorists were moving him around in order to elude Israeli soldiers. “We can send someone in, but by the time we get there, he’s gone. And then what? We’ve endangered our people for nothing. We need better information. We’re having trouble tracking him,” sources kept saying.

A Nation Held Hostage

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

With Sgt. Gilad Shalit safely returned in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian terrorists and murderers, celebration – propelled by wishful avoidance – spread throughout Israel.

It was said that peace in our time, even peace now, might be imminent. The disproportionate exchange could transform the relationship between Israel and Hamas, leading to a final peace agreement. Israel’s relations with Egypt, precarious ever since President Mubarak’s overthrow, and with Turkey, frayed since the Mavi Marmara flotilla confrontation, would improve. Even Shalit himself, interviewed on Egyptian television shortly before his return, envisioned renewed prospects for peace.

But Hamas, whose charter still proclaims the destruction of the Jewish state as its goal, has other plans. It immediately called for more Israeli soldiers to be kidnapped, the better to free 5,000 Palestinian terrorists still imprisoned. A far likelier scenario than peace is the collaborative tightening of the noose around Israel by Hamas, Hizbullah, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Iran.

There was, understandably,  widespread euphoria among Israelis over the return of Shalit. “Bring Gilad Back,” the five-year campaign run by a well-known public relations firm with unremitting media support, had succeeded. Unrelenting pressure from the Shalit family, backed by public rallies and a tent outside the prime minister’s residence, finally prevailed.

But family members of victims brutally murdered in Palestinian terrorist attacks and suicide bombings, whose perpetrators now roam free, became mourners once again. They include the relatives of fifteen children killed in the Sbarro pizzeria bombing masterminded by Ahlam Tamimi; thirty Israelis killed in the Park Hotel Passover Seder bombing planned by Nasser Yataima; twenty-one Israelis killed at a Tel Aviv nightclub and fourteen diners killed  at a Haifa restaurant, ordered by Husam Badran; and eleven Israelis killed at a Jerusalem café, orchestrated by Waled Anjes.

Now Tamimi, Yataima, Badran and Anjes, with hundreds of others, are free to murder once again.

Palestinian terrorists have a proven strategy: launch attacks; slaughter Israelis by the dozens; kidnap a soldier; and bargain for his release in exchange for prisoners who will then repeat the deadly cycle. The more fervently Israel pursues the return of a captured soldier, the greater his value in the eyes of Hamas and the higher the price that its negotiators will demand in return.

Eliad Moreh, severely wounded in the Hebrew University bombing nearly a decade ago that killed seven, said, “When the government releases these murderers…there is no justice.” Meir Schijveschuurder, whose parents and three siblings were killed in the Sbarro bombing, described the exchange as “madness” and announced the intention of surviving family members to return to Holland. “We have been betrayed,” said Sherri Mandel, mother of a murdered 13-year-old boy. “To pardon terrorists mocks our love and our pain.”

The Shalit deal climaxed forty years of exchanges in which escalating numbers of Palestinians have been released: 1 (1970); 76 (1979); 1150 (1985). Israelis claim the exchanges demonstrate their fidelity to the ancient moral obligation to redeem captives – which, however, is challenged by the Talmudic principle (in Gittin) that “We do not redeem captives for more than their worth, so that enemies will not dedicate themselves to take other people captive.”

In the past decade alone nearly two hundred Israelis have been murdered by terrorists who were released for soldiers, living or dead. The likelihood of more killings has now increased. But, as Yossi Zur suggested, now eight years after his son Asaf was among seventeen high-school students killed by a Hamas suicide bomber, “since the names and faces of the future victims are not known, it is permissible to…fantasize that nothing will happen.” Israelis are left to discover who among them will die from the Shalit exchange.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-nation-held-hostage/2011/10/26/

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