Welcome Home, Gilad Shalit.

Gilad Shalit was welcomed home today after five long years in the Hamas prison system. (The Telegraph is live-blogging his homecoming for those interested.)

The 477 Palestinian prisoners who were freed today in exchange for Shalit are also celebrating their own homecoming, albeit under different circumstances. (The remaining 550 prisoners will be released in two months.) Though Israel hopes the terms of Shalit’s release will lead to renewed peace efforts, Gazans have already greeted their released compatriots with demands for more kidnapping and violence:

“The people want a new Gilad!” the crowd chanted, suggesting the abductions of Israeli soldiers would mean freedom for thousands more Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

…most of the 477 prisoners freed Tuesday had been serving life terms for killing Israelis, and their release violated a long-standing Israeli pledge not to free those with “blood on their hands”…

In his speech, Abbas praised the released prisoners as “freedom fighters.”

He suggested that his method of negotiations was also bearing fruit, saying that “there is an agreement between us and the Israeli government on another batch (of releases) similar to this batch after it finishes.”

His comments marked the first time he referred to an additional prisoner release, and there was no immediate Israeli comment.

The Boston Globe has some sobering (and gruesome) details about several specific Palestinian soldiers and the reasons they had been imprisoned. JTA has more here.

Even so, polls indicate that an overwhelming majority of Israelis supported the terms of the exchange–likely because universal conscription means nearly all Israelis can strongly identify with the desire to leave no soldier behind.

Curiously, polls also indicate that 66% of Israelis have little hope for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian conflicts. 67% of those polled last month also said that President Netanyahu did not believe peace with the Palestinians is possible.

It’s as if Israelis are desperate for an end to the conflict, but have all but given up hope that an agreement will ever be reached. No doubt Palestinian families feel the same way, though many of their leaders seem bent on continuing the conflict at all costs.

Netanyahu noted this morning that “On this day, we are all united in both joy and pain.” That may be the best, most universally applicable summary of this situation yet uttered. And as Palestinians welcome home their loved ones today, no less loved for having blood on their hands, it’s hard to imagine a time when the pain and the joy will not be thus co-mingled.

Photo courtesy of the Israel Defense Forces


Published by

Rachel Motte

Rachel Motte is a freelance writer, journalist and editor specializing in social issues, educational affairs, and international religious freedom. Her work has appeared at CNN.com, The Evangelical Outpost, The New Ledger, the Daily Caller, and in Jonah Goldberg’s recent anthology, Proud to Be Right. She is an alumna of Biola University, the Torrey Honors Institute, the Leadership Institute, and the World Journalism Institute. Rachel may be reached at rachel[at]rachelmotte[dot]com.

  • Madymeunier

    Nous avons prié le Seigneur pour qu’Il soit avec vous pendant votre captivité et vous entoure de ses bras d’amour. Nous avons prié pour que vos parents soient fortifiés par D.ieu. Nous avons prié pour la Sagesse de D.ieu pour le gouvernement israélien. Nous avons prié pour votre libération. Nous sommes venus avec un groupe de chrétiens français en mars 2011 à la tente qu’occupaient vos parents à Jérusalem. Nous avons signé le livre blanc. Aujourd’hui nous sommes tellement heureux de voir que D.ieu a répondu à toutes ces prières. Nous prions aujourd’hui pour que vous trouviez la paix et que le Seigneur vienne pour guérir toutes vos émotions et tous ces chocs psychologiques que vous avez subis.
    Soyez béni vous et toute votre famille.

  • Martine Mbri

    Gilad, nous continuons à vous garder dans nos coeurs et nos prières.. comme nous l’avons fait sur place en Israël en Mars dernier… avec ce ruban jaune qui s’élève dans le ciel ! Que D.ieu bénisse cette Terre Promise de toute éternité et vous garde, vous et votre famille… et que Sa Paix vous accompagne à chaque instant. C’est notre voeu. Shalom.

  • OB

    Tellement heureuse que tu sois de nouveau auprès des tiens!
    Tu es la personne que j’admire le plus!
    Je t’envoie tout le courage et toute la force inimaginable pour le début de cette nouvelle vie!

  • http://www.shapiromediation.com/ Mediation Los Angeles

    Psuedo intellectuals and those who pretend to be intelligent frequently do a great deal of harm.

  • http://diostube.com videos cristianos

    What Gilad Shalit endured is incredible. Even one man for Israel is very important, and that’s the same for our Lord Jesus, even one of us is very important for our Saviour Jesus Christ. God bless