Sunday, April 07, 2024

Ceding Leverage

Rachel Goldberg-Polin, mother of a 23-year-old man held hostage by Hamas since October 7, 2023remarked on Sunday's Face the Nation on CBS

Well, you know, this is such a painful, staggeringly indescribable odyssey that we are on. And, as you said, you can't imagine. I often say, oh, I also can't imagine what we're going through. And, yes, we are going to be returning to Washington tomorrow to have meetings with different people in the administration. And we really want to understand what is happening to ensure that these people - and remember, Margaret, we have eight American citizens who have been held for 184 days, and we are feeling extreme desperation, despair. And we've had wonderful access and sympathy and open doors and lots of hugs from everyone in the U.S. government, but this is a very binary situation. We want our people back. Period. And that's what we're going to be talking tomorrow about is, what is actually going to be happening? What leverage? What levers need to be pulled in order to make this happen? Because six months is actually a complete failure on everybody's part.

It's not a failure on Hamas' part. The terrorist organization has played very well its role as hostage-taker, to hold on to individuals until it believes it has squeezed from the victimized party the maximum it's likely to achieve. Hamas did this when in 2011

Gilad Schalit, a former IDF soldier, was released from Gaza after being held captive there by the terrorist group, Hamas, for five years. He was only released when Israel agreed to a prisoner swap that involved the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, including those responsible for killing Israelis in terror attacks.

On the day of his release, Egyptian military officials received Shalit from Hamas control on the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing and updated the IDF command post at the Kerem Shalom crossing of the transaction earlier on Tuesday morning.

As a result, Israel transferred all the Palestinian prisoners to be released to Gaza and the West Bank to Red Cross buses.

Upon passing into Israel, Shalit was guarded by soldiers of the Israel Air Force's 669 unit, who accompanied him until he was home safe in Mitzpe Hila.

As part of a carefully orchestrated prisoner swap, Israel freed 477 Palestinian prisoners on that day, with a further 550 set for release at a later date.

It was not vey long before the deal started paying dividends- for Hamas. As we learned in July of 2015

The suspected mastermind behind a deadly West Bank terror attack last month was among 1,027 Palestinian inmates freed by Israel in exchange for the release from Gaza of the captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.

On Sunday, the Shin Bet announced it had detained four members of a seven-member Hamas cell who allegedly opened fire on a car near the settlement of Shvut Rachel in June, killing Malachy Rosenfeld, 25, and wounding three others.

Rosenfeld was the sixth Israeli to be killed in attacks carried out or planned by Palestinians released under the Shalit deal since April 2014.

And that's not all because

Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, is widely believed to have helped mastermind the unprecedented Hamas attack that changed the course of Israeli-Palestinian history.

He spent more than two decades behind bars in Israel, before being freed 12 years ago in a hostage ransom deal his brother helped negotiate. In early October, Sinwar outsmarted Israel with the same hostage-taking tactic — resulting in Israel's deadliest day on record.

Israel believes in the value of human life, to the extent of releasing 1,027 terrorists, criminals, and those suspected of violent behavior in return for one human being.  Hamas believes in death, destruction, and and annihilation. That's not merely annihilation of the Jewish state- if the Muslim nation-state of Gaza, is completely demolished, all the better to the terrorist group.

There is in Israel a growing movement to get the hostages, not all of them Israeli, back with or without defeat of Hamas..  "We want our people back. Period," says Rachel Goldber- Polin, reflecting the mounting sentiment.

It is also dangerous. When Hamas hears this, they justifiably hear "anything you want; period." When the Israelis gave up 1,027 prisoners for one Israeli in 2011, they bought themselves more terrorist attacks.  After the remarks noted above, Goldberg-Polin added

And I include myself in that as a parent, that I have not been able to save my son. And I don't know – I think that you're a parent, anyone who is a parent, can appreciate our job is to keep our children safe. And when they get in a situation when they're not safe, our job is to save them. And I feel that I have failed and I feel that our governments have failed and I feel that all the parties at the table have failed to get these 133 souls back home.

The job of the parents is "to keep our children sage" and otherwise "to save them." But that is not the sole job of a government, especially one that accepts not only the importance of making whole the families of 100+ hostages but also the short-term and long-term welfare of the nation itself.

Goldberg-Polin probably is not naive. She is focused on what she needs to be focused on. However, the military and political establishment has a broader mission. This includes return of the hostages, an aim hampered throughout this war by global pressure for a lasting ceasefire, the hostages whatever. More obviously, if a permanent ceasefire is imposed prematurely, Hamas will live to fight another day.

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