After more than five years in captivity, Sgt. Gilad Shalit has finally returned to Israel. One would think that the return of a soldier, a son, a friend, would be fully supported. However, debates have raged for five years over whether bringing Shalit home in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners is an ethical decision. Is his return worth 500 Palestinians? 5,000? The value of Shalit’s life should not be determined by a mathematical equation. Speaking quantitatively, it’s true that one man, Gilad Shalit, is not equal to 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. For Shalit’s case, the numbers mean nothing. Israel should not be scorned for making its choice to bring Shalit home.
What other countries would make such huge concessions in order to bring one person out of captivity and into safety? What other countries negotiate with terrorist groups? The United States doesn’t seem eager to release Guantanamo Bay prisoners for captured American soldier Bowe Bergdahl.
This bold decision points to Israel’s determination to protect the lives of its citizens. Yes, some Israelis fear that the released Palestinians will put lives in jeopardy. Still, Shalit was a boy innocent of any crime and did not deserve to rot in a Hamas prison under inhumane conditions.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that, due to the current instability in the Arab world, the opportunity to free Shalit might have disappeared if Israel had held out for better terms. He would not have signed the release papers if the action put the state of Israel in grave danger.
The return of Shalit is a testament to Israel’s love of life. Israel rescued Gilad not to be pragmatic, but because it is right. The state of Israel should be applauded for its deeply moral negotiation.