In the Toronto Star yesterday, letter writer Naftalie Lavie’s attempt at drawing a moral equivalence between Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, kidnapped on sovereign Israeli soil by Hamas in June 2006 and held incommunicado ever since, with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, falls short for many reasons.
For starters, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are either accused or have been found guilty of acts, association, or sponsorship in terrorism; whereas Corporal Shalit was captured solely because he’s an Israeli soldier and is being used as a bargaining chip. Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails receive visits from family members and international aid agencies such as the Red Cross; in sharp contrast and in defiance of the Geneva Conventions, Shalit has been held in a secret location and hasn’t been seen by anyone but his captors for more than three years. While Palestinian prisoners have access to phones and can speak freely with their family members; apart from a single letter and a proof of life video released by Hamas, Shalit hasn’t been heard from since he was captured. Palestinian prisoners meet other prisoners for prayer (and undoubtedly political) meetings on a regular basis; we can only imagine the conditions under which Shalit is being held.
Finally, Mr. Lavie’s contention that the thousands of Palestinian prisoners “should all be released” is beyond outrage considering that many of these prisoners have blood on their hands, having been responsible for the maiming and killing of innocent Israelis.