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The freeing of Gilad Shalit shows Israel’s humanity – and Hamas’s blood-chilling cruelty

His kidnapping five years ago has done the Palestinian cause no favours

By on Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Gilad Shalit gives his first interview to Egyptian television after his release

Gilad Shalit gives his first interview to Egyptian television after his release

So, as I write this Gilad Shalit is on his way to freedom and a reunion with his family. The matter is being covered by a live blog at the Telegraph and at the Guardian.

It is certainly a major event for Sergeant Shalit, who had the misfortune to be taken prisoner by Hamas in Gaza five years ago; it is certainly a very important day for his family in Israel, who have spent five years worrying about him: worrying whether he was still alive, worrying whether they would ever see him again. And it is an important day for the Israeli government, who can at last draw a line under this episode, and who can think with satisfaction that they have got their man back. After all, that is the number one duty of all governments – to protect their citizens. The Israeli government, in making such efforts on behalf of Gilad Shalit, and paying so high a price for his release, has shown a Palmerstonian commitment to the welfare of its citizens.

There will, of course, be a great deal of debate about whether the Israelis were right to agree to swap Gilad Shalit for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. This deal raises the spectre of other Israeli citizens being kidnapped and then exchanged, now that the government of Israel has revealed the high value it places on a single sergeant. But to look at it that way obscures a simpler and more profound point.

Hamas has been content to hold Gilad Shalit for five years; we do not know in what sort of conditions as yet, but we do know that his imprisonment was not in accord with the Geneva convention. Shalit may have been taken in a war but the way he was held reminds us of the kidnapping of Terry Waite, Brian Keenan and John McCarthy. Just as we remember the long agony of that crisis, we ought to understand something of what the Israelis have been going through on behalf of Gilad Shalit. This shows that Hamas is quite prepared to use cruel methods to advance its cause, whatever that cause may be. Cruelty is surely never to be condoned. This behaviour of Hamas ought to chill the blood of all humane people.

I am not an apologist for Israel, and I deplore much of what the Israelis have done to the Palestinians, but in kidnapping Gilad Shalit and holding him for five years, Hamas have done the Palestinian cause no favours. Indeed they have done something wrong in itself, something inhumane, something to be condemned by all. By contrast, the Israelis, in caring about Shalit, in refusing to sacrifice him, and in releasing 1,000 Palestinian prisoners early, has shown a merciful face to the world.

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    I guess you’re not aware that many of the Palestinians in Israeli jails have been kidnapped as well?

    I suppose if the Palestinians received billions of American dollars  and arms, not to mention preferencial trade agreements from Western countries they would be in a position to hold all their political captives in plain sight, and to guard those installations from outside aggression. Until then, you’re in no position to criticise the capture of soldiers whose presence enables oppression.

    In any case, if you want to direct moral outrage, I would suggest you do it towards the country which has over 1,000 prisoners in stock rather than over the regime which has kidnapped one soldier of that country’s soldiers.

  • Randolph O’Shea

    Alexander, your comments ill judged and misinformed. I would suggest that you spend some time in the occupied west bank with Palestinians and discover what life is like under the daily cruel humiliation of Israeli occupation. You are way off the mark in this shallow article. But then again, I suppose no catholic priest wants to be called an anti-semite especially after the vatican’s inaction in WWII?

  • Anonymous

    Jews cherish and appreciate life. Muslims favor and cherish death.
       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWIDZ7Jpdqg .

  • Anonymous

    I think that Arabs has the right to kidnap Israeli soldiers, but not citizens as Israel has the right to kill each Islamic terrorist. When an Arab decides to join a terror group he considered as declaring that all chances are open. In that regard, each released terrorist will be considered as a clear target by the honorable IDF if return to his old habit and joined some terror group. One Jew equal 1027 Muslims. The Arabs just had confirmed that observation today. 
    Even if you give the Arabs in Palestine some Billion American $$$$ they won’t be able to act as grown civilian culture. It’s not the money, boy, it’s the nature of hard Islam. Look how they attacked the small Christian community of Gaza and burn some of the churches. Look at the Arab Christians in Ramallah and Beit Lehem and see that most of the Christians escaped the cities after Israel withdrawal from and Gaza and burn some of the churches. Look at the Arab Christians in Ramallah and Beit Lehem and see that most of the Christians escaped the cities after Israel withdrawal from and passing the sovereignty to the Arab Palestinians.    
     

  • Anonymous

    Vatican inaction? Hardly!

    Do you really require an itinerary of what the Vatican did to save the lives of Italian Jews during WW2?

    Yes this article is ill-informed – but please don’t construct strawmen to justify false motives; Fr Lucie-Smith is sincere in his ignorance.

  • Justin revowe

    Israel should not exist…the most wicked propel on earth..carry on their hands the blood of the Lord!
    They do not respect the frontiers given to them in 1948. They dwell on our back here in the US and we work for them..we the goyim  the cattle they mil.
    They think they are the MESSIAH and we should adore them…

  • centrist

    Gilad Shalit was kidnapped as he was doing his military service. He was and remains innocent of any wrong-doing.  That is, unless some of your readers here consider Israeli-Jewish identity to be a crime in and of itself. The Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have all been captured during, or after, planning a terrorist attack, executing a terrorist attack or aiding and abetting in a terrorist attack. In other words, they are criminals; they are guilty of some complicity in the bloodshed of innocents (unless, of course, as per some of your readers, there is no innocent Israeli Jew …). Then they sit in Israeli jails, are well fed, are allowed regular contact with their familiies, have access to TV and radio and some of them are even allowed to pursue academic studies from jail. Remember Samir Quntar?

    ” Palestinian prisoner at a Negev prison has received a
    doctorate degree in Public Administration from an American university,
    according to the Center for Prisoner Education, Channel 10 news reported
    Sunday.

    [-]The doctorate itself was awarded by the American World University in cooperation with Birzeit University.

    This
    is not the first time a Palestinian captive in an Israeli prisoner has
    received an academic degree. Samir Kuntar and Marwan Bargouti were also
    recipients of degrees while held by Israeli prisons.”

    http://www.jpost.com/LandedPages/PrintArticle.aspx?id=187170

    Compare and contrast the physical condition of the Palestinian prisoners released with the emaciated, gaunt figure of Gilad and then talk about the “inhumanity of the Israelis”, Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith! 

  • Anonymous

    Randolph, you might consider spending some time in Arab-occupied Egypt with the Copts and discover the hideous cruelty of life under Islamic law. This is the same law which the majority of Palestinians would impose on Christians and Jews, and it includes the proposition that it is by divine command that a Muslim who dares to leave Islam, whether for Christanity, another religion or none at all, must be put to death as a matter of defined, not maximum, penalty. Even if not sentenced to death, Islamic law holds that it is not a crime or sin to kill an apostate. This proposition is by Christian standards blasphemous, and invites the conclusion that the cruelty of Israeli occupation might be a deserved punishment from God.

  • Gleeb Pencilneck

    Support the racist murderous state of Israel. Sure path to the episcopacy in an apostate church.

  • Rpm64

    Good name. To bad you didn’t include your middle one. Peabrain.

  • Guest

    I was absolutely shocked when I saw this young man on the TV – it was obvious he has been very badly treated, especially when I saw some of the Palestinians who looked fit and well fed. 

  • thomasc

    No, they’ve shown the face they always show: that to them one Israeli will always be worth a thousand Palestinians.  If they could have got him out safely by killing that many people in Gaza the evidence is that they would certainly have done it.

    Israel routinely holds people with no release date and no trial: people in administrative detention (without prosecution or trial) are not usually told what they are accused of, on what evidence or when they might be released.

    Israel, unlike say Syria, is a recognised as a free country and an advanced democracy.  It can and should be criticised for its failure to treat the people it has conquered as real people who matter just as much as Jews.

  • BTyler

    Ah, that old chesnut. Yawn.

  • BTyler

    Israel has had to fight for survival from the very beginning. Time and time again the Palestinians have chosen hate (electing Hamas in 2006). Israel is a country surrounded by Islamo-fascist regimes. It cannot afford to show compassion, as non would be shown to it. And so it goes.

  • ms Catholic state

    The Vatican saved 800.000 Jewish lives in WWII……which considering it didn’t have an army, is very good.  And it has been discovered in recently opened archives….that 200.000 German Jews were saved after Kristallnacht when the Pope secretly issued false passports for them. http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2010/07/07/pius-xii-%E2%80%98secured-visas-for-jews%E2%80%99-after-kristallnacht/

  • Anonymous

    Centrist:
    may I be so bold as to take you to task over the quote you took from the article. The reference to “inhumanity of the Israelis”, If put in context reads very differently.
    I think it surpirsing that you give no credit to Father Lucie-Smith for what was a very clear condemnation of Hammas.

  • Anonymous

    Randolph O’Shea ;   Do you mean to say that the land of Israel doesn’t belong to the Israelis just because some Arabs, Islamic Turks, British and Palestinian Jordan sometime occupied that land? Do you allow occupation to fit your dark dreams?Jews have the right to free their land, even if you call it fascism !!!!!

  • Anonymous

     
    Do you mean to say that the land of Israel doesn’t belong to the Israelis just because some Arabs, Islamic Turks, British and Palestinian Jordan sometime occupied that land? Do you allow occupation to fit your dark dreams?
    Jews have the right to free their land, even if you call it fascism !!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Randolph O’Shea ;   Do you mean to say that the land of Israel doesn’t belong to the Israelis just because some Arabs, Islamic Turks, British and Palestinian Jordan sometime occupied that land? Do you allow occupation to fit your dark dreams?
    Jews have the right to free their land, even if you call it fascism !!!!!

  • Polycarp0331

    One would have to wonder how the Palestinians would be treated by the Israelis if the Palestinians cared more about peace than about killing Jews.  One has to wonder why the Palestinians rejected the 1948 lines for the Jewish state, oh wait there were no Palestinians in 1948, in fact can anyone name me the last time a Palestinian king sat on the throne of a Palestinian kingdom?  The Palestinians only came into being when the Muslims of the middle east realized that they could not kill every Jew and drive Israel into the sea.  Yassir Arafat was an Egyptian and a terrorist who killed a crippled man on the Achilles Lauro.  Is Israel perfect?  No.  Would Israel live in Peace with its Muslim neighbors?  Yes. 

    For anyone to not see the evil that rules the Islamic middle east is amazing.  I wonder how long Britain or the U.S. or Europe would put up with what Israel has had to put up with since 1948. 

  • Maureen Lash

    That there was no Palestinian state before 1948 does not mean there were no Palestinans! That was the name used for the mostly Arabic speaking people who lived in that corner of the Ottoman empire.

  • Maureen Lash

    Oh dear. When do you suppose those Arabs “occupied” that land. And do you think that the adherents of a particular religious faith can ever have a right to lay a geographical claim to any part of the world because of that faith? If, say, Scientologists decide that L Ron Hubbard has given them a right to, say, Manhattan Island, should we respect their right to free “their land”?

  • japs

    you are so correct!!!after all they are same Blood a muslim blood so,therefore what happened to to egypt right now  is not impossible to happen in palestine in the future.I cannot really understand why they say Islam is peace where in fact most of their follower are so cruel to other believers.May God wipe out all of this extremist soon.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PKZM3DW7OLI5JPLFVWQW24HO4M Gina

    You only need a trip to the holly-land and see for yourself , I am almost certain that every poster on this blog has not been there or if you did you spent all your time between seaside and hotel.