The ubiquitous picture of the Israeli prisoner, Gilad Shalit, with the skewed media coverage creates the impression that he is the central subject in this episode of exchanging prisoners, and everything else is periphery. Hence, everyone knows the name, the face and the story of this Israeli soldier, who has family and friends, whereas the Palestinians remain nameless and faceless, as if they are not human.
One Israel soldier for a thousand Palestinians, as if the timid looking Gilad is a modern day Goliath, balanced by the many Palestinians who are supposed to be physically weaker like David. The obvious question is: why has Israel agreed to this asymmetrical exchange of prisoners; for sure it does not perceive Gilad Shalit as a modern day Goliath who is worth a thousand Palestinians.
In terms of reasons, one can certainly exclude the possibility of Israel suddenly being benevolent towards the Palestinians, based on its track record. An emotional and a cynical explanation would be that Israel has become accustomed to killing a thousand Palestinians or more for one of its own, thus, they have naturally agreed to an asymmetrical exchange of prisoners. Since Israel is holding thousands more Palestinians, including children, it can afford to exchange one thousand Palestinians for one Israeli soldier, with plenty more in its jails.
According to a UN report, since the occupation in 1967 at least 750,000 Palestinian civilians, including children, have been arrested, detained and imprisoned by Israel. It states: “The Bureau is alarmed by credible well-documented reports of the systematic abuse; mistreatment; medical neglect; denial of due process, legal assistance and visits; arbitrary detention; humiliation; and torture to which Palestinian prisoners are subjected on a daily basis at the hands of the Israeli occupying forces, in blatant contravention of international humanitarian and human rights instruments, including the Geneva Conventions.” Therefore, Gilad probably had a holiday in comparison to the experience of the Palestinian prisoners!
Moreover, the release of a large number of Palestinian prisoners will help to reduce some of the burden of maintaining so many prisoners; in times of austerity everyone needs to cut back.
The media have confined themselves to examining the political motives behind this episode of prisoner exchange, but the truth is – Israel is forced to save one of its own at any cost, because Israeli soldiers are becoming scarce with a moderate population growth, compared to the growing number of Palestinians, and even more so when compared to the larger, Arab and Islamic world. This relative scarcity is compounded by the high risks associated with serving in the armed forces, in return for very little financial reward. This is probably the central reason for the Israelis to accept this deal.
The Israeli regime needs to assure the existing and potential Israeli soldiers that it will do its utmost to save them, to maintain their morale and the supply chain. Such a mindset to save Israeli lives at any cost can also be seen in its gruesome attack on the Palestinians from distant using high-tech weapons.
Many young Israelis are increasingly facing the moral dilemma of serving in a state that has surpassed the racist Apartheid state of South Africa, and is becoming more like Nazi Germany. Although the Zionists may have substantial influence and control over the mass media, but they do not over the other media outlets like the Internet, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter which are having some impact on the minds of younger Israelis. Maybe, we will see an Israeli spring that calls on their government to give justice to the Palestinians.
This exchange of prisoners has done nothing to improve the chances of having peace in the region, as Israel is determined to see that a Palestinian state will not come about. Being the far stronger player, it has the ability to sue for peace on the basis of 1967 borders for a two-state solution. The entire world believes in a two-state solution except the Israelis. How ironic; a nation that came into existence through the UN is now opposing its mother’s wishes to give birth to a Palestinian state.