The Israeli newspaper the Jerusalem Post published an editorial endorsing plans to reach a prisoner swap deal between Hamas and Israel, arguing that “it is about time that our boys return home”.
“After six years that the Goldin and Shaul families have suffered, and following a five-year struggle for the Mengistu and Al-Sayyed families, Israel should finally exercise its authority and fight for what it stands for,” the newspaper added, referencing the soldiers who went missing in Gaza.
Commenting on the possibility that Israel would receive no more than dead bodies if a deal was reached, the Jerusalem Post stressed that it is important for Israel to return its soldiers’ bodies nonetheless. “Even in their bodies, our Jewish values mandate that we work to retrieve them.”
The newspaper also weighed in on the challenges related to conducting negotiations with the aim of reaching prisoner swap deals. “And this issue raises another painful subject, that remains in the dark in Israel – how do we negotiate the potential return of our captive soldiers and citizens and what price should we be willing to pay as a state?”
It called for transparency regarding a committee that was formed when Ehud Barack was defence minister in 2008 “to set the ground rules on how the state should negotiate with enemies on the matter of POWs.” Instead of releasing its recommendations to the public, the committee only presented them to the defence minister and marked them as top secret.
“We cannot afford another Schalit deal that sees the release of prisoners who would then go out and kill more Israelis,” the Jerusalem Post warned.
The Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange followed a 2011 agreement between Israel and Hamas to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,027 prisoners – mainly Palestinians and Arab-Israelis, although there was also a Ukrainian, a Jordanian and a Syrian.