Palestinians from Hamas to Fatah see Israel's willingness to trade nearly 1,000 jailed terrorists, even those who have directly murdered Israelis, for abducted soldier Gilad Shalit as incentive to kidnap a lot more Israelis in the future.
"The [Israeli] message is clear and unequivocal," wrote Abdallah Awad in the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam. "Only, only - says the Hebrew state - by force, detainment, capture, and kidnapping of occupation soldiers, is it possible to free Palestinian prisoners 'whose hands are stained with blood' [i.e., serving life sentences for murder]."
Top Palestinian Authority columnist Hani al-Masri, also writing for Al-Ayyam, echoed that in his assertion that "Israel understands only the language of force, since kidnapping is the only thing that leaves open the gates of hope for freedom for prisoners with long prison terms."
Al-Masri noted that with such a formula in place, more Palestinians would be encouraged to become terrorists, certain that no matter how terrible their deeds, if but one Israeli soldier could be kidnapped, their release from prison would be assured.
Those are some of the reasons Israelis groups such as the Almagor Terror Victims Association are fighting so hard against a swap deal for Shalit. To be sure, all Israelis want Shalit freed, but not at the risk of even more Israelis dying because deadly terrorists were set free to bring Shalit home. According to Almagor, nearly 200 Israelis have been killed over the past decade by terrorists released in previous prisoner exchanges.
In his article, al-Masri also pointed out another negative consequence of the reported Shalit deal - Israel will legitimize Hamas, after so many years of pressing the international community to boycott the terror group, even after it won the Palestinian legislative elections.
"Completing the deal according to Palestinian criteria means...Israel was forced to negotiate - even if indirectly - with a Palestinian organization, that refuses to recognize it and to stop its (violent) resistance, and does not accept [international peace] conditions. This will weaken Israel's ability to object to European, American and international contacts and meetings with the Hamas movement."
According to al-Masri, Hamas will ride this newfound international legitimacy to even greater popularity among Palestinians, all but guaranteeing that the terror group will remain either in power or hugely influential for years to come.
[Translation provided by Palestinian Media Watch]
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