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The Centre for Jewish and Israel Affairs Calls Shalt Release "bittersweet"

'His release not only closes an agonizing chapter in Israel’s history, it demonstrates the country’s extraordinary commitment to protecting every single life.'
By: Daniel Horowitz & Howard English
Published: October 12th, 2011 in News » World

After five years in captivity, Gilad Shalit could be free in just days, after a deal between Israel and Hamas was announced today, (October 11th). Israel has agreed to free 1,000 prisoners in return for Gilad. The deal is truly bittersweet, combining exultation about Gilad’s freedom with deep distress about the price.

The deal to return Shalit - held by Hamas since his capture in June, 2006 in a cross-border raid by Palestinian terrorists – and who has been held in captivity for the last 1,934 days - will see Israel release 300 Hamas prisoners within a few days. Then, once Gilad has been transferred from Gaza to Cairo, Egypt, Israel would release another 150 terrorists. Gilad will then travel to Germany, and from there, return home to Israel, at which point the final 550 prisoners will be released.

The deal reportedly includes about 300 hard-core terrorists, including Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Saadat. Hamas reportedly intends to release the full list of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners shortly.

Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that because of the instability in the region, including Egypt, he couldn’t be sure when, or if, there would be another opportunity to get Gilad out.

Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the advocacy arm of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and other Canadian Jewish Federations, issued the following statement:

“For over five years, the Jewish community has been anxiously following the situation of Gilad Shalit and his family. His kidnapping and detention are violations of international law by Hamas, which has denied family communications and even Red Cross access. An arrangement to secure his release, should it proceed according to plan, brings mixed emotions.

“On one hand, we are excited and relieved by the prospect that Gilad will be reunited with his family. This young man and his parents have suffered the unimaginable. His release not only closes an agonizing chapter in Israel’s history, it demonstrates the country’s extraordinary commitment to protecting every single life.

“On the other hand, it will be difficult to witness the release of hundreds of convicted terrorists, including those who have murdered civilians. This is a terribly painful concession on the part of Israel, and we are conscious of just how emotionally taxing it is for Israelis.

“Like every liberal democracy, Israel has to make tough decisions to protect its citizens. We respect and have every confidence in the capacity of its elected government to do so.”

Related articles: Gilad Shalit, IDF, Solider, Prisoner Swap, Hamas, Palestinian
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