Israel today made the extremely difficult move of releasing over 1,000 convicted terrorists, hundreds of whom had directly participated in the murder of Israelis. It did so to win the freedom of a single soldier who has occupied the hearts and minds of his countrymen since being abducted over five years ago.
But it's not the release of convicted killers that is the true price of Gilad Shalit's freedom. The true price is the blood those terrorists will go on to spill as they enthusiastically return to their previous endeavors.
Over the past 30 years, Israel has set free thousands of jailed terrorists in prisoner exchanges and in goodwill gestures toward its ostensible peace partners in the Palestinian Authority. Those freed terrorists have gone on to kill over 180 Israelis, people who today may still be alive if Israel had only kept their killers behind bars. In the Shalit deal, Israel is freeing more terrorists with "blood on their hands" than ever before.
And Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has already promised that those freed terrorists will "return to the struggle."
Security officials have also noted that many soldiers and police officers were killed or wounded over the years in order to get most of those terrorists behind bars. Their blood is also part of the payment for Shalit.
All this is not to say the deal is wrong, necessarily. To be sure, this is an impossible situation. Every Israeli wants Gilad to come home, and every Israeli can literally feel the pain the Shalit family has endured for the past five years, because there is no family in this nation that has not been personally affected by terrorism or war.
It is a testament to the tremendous value Israel places on human life that it would conduct such a deal. But it is also a testament to enormous risks Israel is forced to regularly take with the security of its citizens.