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Monday, December 31, 2007

IDF, GSS divided over terrorist release

The 'interministerial' committee that is determining whether to loosen the criteria for releasing 'Palestinian' terrorists met yesterday with IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi (pictured, lower right) and GSS (General Security Service or Shabak - Sheirut Bitachon Klali - in Hebrew) Chief Yuval Diskin (pictured, top left). Ashkenazi is in favor of loosening the criteria to permit the release of terrorists who were involved in attacks in which (by God's grace) there was no loss of life, while Diskin is opposed to changing the criteria or allowing any release of terrorists at all. This is from the JPost:
The recommendations being considered now include allowing the release of terrorists involved in attacks that wounded but did not kill anyone, and allowing the release of those involved in a cell that did carry out attacks if they themselves were not directly involved in murder.
Was Ahlam Tamimi 'directly involved in murder'? I would argue that she was, but who knows what the government has in mind. Haaretz adds:
In a special meeting with cabinet ministers and security officials, Diskin lashed out against Ofer Dekel, Israel's chief negotiator for securing the release of abducted soldiers, claiming Dekel backed criteria that were too lenient.

"Diskin wanted to keep the criteria as they are because when they [the Palestinian prisoners] get out of jail, he'll have to deal with them," a government source said. "On the other side, Dekel is interested in reaching a deal and believes criteria should be eased."

During the meeting, Dekel's stance was apparently backed by IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, the source said. An attempt by Vice Premier Haim Ramon to broker a compromise between the two camps failed and the meeting was adjourned without reaching an agreement.


In addition to Diskin, Dekel, Ashkenazi and Ramon, participants at the meeting included Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Cabinet Minister Ami Ayalon, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter. Another meeting is scheduled to take place over the next few days.

The Shin Bet said it "regretted that some camps with vested interests wanted to cause bad blood between the sides. The Shin Bet's stance will be presented at a closed forum and not to the media."
Here's what I believe is going on. We have more than enough proof that when terrorists 'without blood on their hands' under the current criteria are released from prison, they return to terrorism with deadly results. Loosening the criteria is only likely to make matters worse. Diskin recognizes that and knows that capturing terrorists is not an easy task. And Diskin's job is to represent and protect the country's civilians.

Ashkenazi, on the other hand, is likely under a lot of pressure from the Shalit family (especially, since they know Gilad Shalit is alive and who is holding him) and from the Goldwasser and Regev families. The IDF has an ethos of not leaving soldiers behind in enemy territory. We may have the only army in the world that - some would argue foolhardily - risks soldiers' lives to retrieve other soldiers dead bodies. Dekel is telling Ashkenazi that there is no way to strike a deal for Shalit without releasing terrorists, and because of that Ashkenazi is trying to find a way to please everyone. The government is weak and is not willing to tell the Shalit family to stand down, especially because it went to war in both Gaza and Lebanon with the ostensible goal of bringing Shalit, Goldwasser and Regev back in the first place. Over 100 soldiers lost their lives as a result. And while the IDF's job is to protect the country, part of Ashkenazi's job is to look out for his soldiers' interests.

Obviously, I believe that Diskin is right - you don't place hundreds more people at risk to get back one or two or three soldiers (two of whom are likely dead). But the government is willing to do just about anything to strike a deal.

And has anyone questioned why Olmert gave away all of our terrorists who didn't have 'blood on their hands' as 'goodwill gestures' without getting anything for them - which is how we got to this position in the first place?


At 12:26 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

If Ehud Olmert had done his job in the first place, it would not be necessary to even debate releasing murderers from Israeli prisons. No one has even asked that question and with the bank scandal still over his head and his Weinograd testimony... can any one say the man deserves to keep his job?

He should have lost it when he lost a war Israel should have won. And if anyone needs a reminder, there's now a report Hezbollah has repositioned itself on Israel's border. The war Olmert botched was supposed to have eliminated the Hezbollah threat. It now appears it didn't.

At 12:27 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

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