The Gilad Shalit deal: Why now and what it means

The Gilad Shalit deal: Why now and what it means

Buses carrying Palestinian prisoners for the exchange

The deal struck last week to secure the release of Gilad Shalit, coordinated by a German mediator with help from the Egyptian authorities, has been met with mixed emotions within Israel because 1,027 Palestinian prisoners – more than 280 of whom are serving life sentences – are set to be released into Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Israel or expatriated to Qatar, Syria and Turkey.

Although it’s unfathomable that the US or the UK would free a thousand enemy combatants in exchange for a single prisoner, for reasons owing as much as to Jewish cultural norms as to Israel’s socialist origins (the notion of a “people’s army” runs like Ariadne’s thread through today’s IDF), the fate of one 25-year-old solider has become a national trauma. For more than a year, Shalit’s parents, Noam and Aviva, have camped in a tent outside Benjamin Netanyahu’s office as their son’s face has adorned street posters and t-shirts...
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