Text on screen:
"1 Zionist soldier = 1,000 prisoners.
6 Zionist soldiers = 6,000 prisoners.
Capture of 6 Zionist soldiers = release of remaining prisoners.
We are still thinking about you. Izz A-Din Al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas military wing)."
[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas), Oct. 21, 2011]
Palestinian Media Watch posted this video of a Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV broadcast to YouTube, and notes that the Hamas response to kidnap more Israeli soldiers was predicted by the PMW report on Palestinian kidnap-for-hostage policy 2004 - 2009:
In November 2008, Palestinian Media Watch was invited to give testimony before the Israeli government committee headed by former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Meir Shamgar, entitled "The Committee for Establishing Principles of Negotiation for Release of [Israeli] Prisoners."The full report can be viewed as a PDF
PMW documented that Israel's willingness to exchange large numbers of imprisoned terrorists for the release of a small number of Israeli hostages was understood by Palestinians to indicate that kidnapping is the most effective tool for freeing terrorists. These sentiments were expressed by the Palestinian Authority as well as by Fatah and Hamas leaders and members. The PMW Special Report to the commission documented the Palestinian reactions immediately after exchanges that took place since 2004 and reached clear conclusions about how Palestinians view these exchanges. In the introduction PMW wrote:
"Israel's release of prisoners in exchange for hostages is not seen by Palestinian society as merely the last stage of one kidnapping, but as the first act of the next kidnapping."
Here is the Executive Summary:
Background:If exchanging 1 soldier for 1,000 terrorists is supposed to prove Israel's moral superiority, how many times is Israel feel it has to prove the point?
More than 10,000 Palestinians are currently in Israeli prisons for terrorism of various degrees. The Palestinian Authority demands that Israel release them all, including murderers of civilians and masterminds of suicide terror who are serving multiple life sentences. Israel argues that they have been imprisoned following proper judicial process and must complete their sentences.
Due to Israel's willingness to release Palestinian terrorists from jail in exchange for freeing kidnapped and imprisoned Israeli hostages, Palestinians have concluded that kidnapping-for-hostage is a valid strategy to achieve the release of additional Palestinian terrorists. This report documents that these opinions are found across the political spectrum and among the Palestinian leadership, both Fatah and Hamas.
Case Study 1
2004 -2006: 1,000 terrorists released for 1 kidnapped Israeli and bodies of 3 soldiers
The first major boost for the Palestinian kidnapping-for-hostage policy came in 2004, after Israel released more than 1,000 jailed terrorists in exchange for one Israeli kidnapped by Hezbollah and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers. Palestinians - including both Fatah and Hamas members - expressed support for the Hezbollah achievement as a positive precedent, stressing that kidnapping Israeli hostages would be, from then on, their modus operandi for the release of more prisoners.
"Fatah's military branch organized a civilian and military procession yesterday through the streets of Rafah. This event was held in appreciation and gratitude for the efforts Hezbollah made for the release of Arab and Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails as part of the prisoner exchange deal with Israel. In a public statement by the Abu Al-Rish Brigades, Fatah's military wing emphasized the need to follow Hezbollah's example in order to achieve the release of all prisoners."[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 29, 2004]See more statements that followed the 2004 prisoner release, in body of report, below.
Case Study 2
2006-2008: 3 Israeli soldiers kidnappedIn June 2006, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped and taken to Gaza. Shortly thereafter, Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were kidnapped by Hezbollah and taken to Lebanon. Again, both Fatah and Hamas expressed support for the kidnapping-for-hostage tactic:
"Fatah spokesman, Ahmad Abd Al-Rahman, conveyed his congratulations to the heroes who carried out the heroic act in southern Lebanon, in support of their Palestinian brethren... and emphasized that the demand to free the Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the Israeli soldier (Shalit) is a natural right... He emphasized that the Israeli soldier should be freed only in the event of the release of Palestinian prisoners."[Al-Ayyam, July 13, 2006]
See more statements that followed the 2006 prisoner release, in body of report, below.
Case Study 3
2008- Present: Israel's release of terrorist murderers seen as precedent
In July 2008, for the first time since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, Israel released terrorist murderers. In exchange for the bodies of Goldwasser and Regev, Lebanese terrorists were released. This had significant impact on Palestinian resolve because it was seen as breaking the last of Israel's "red lines." Since then, Palestinians have argued that every single Palestinian prisoner, even murderers, will be released, as long as Palestinians continue to kidnap Israelis.
The following are some of the reactions immediately following the release of terrorist murderers in 2008:
Fatah TV after the release:
"[Israel now] will not be able to refuse the Palestinian demands to release hundreds of prisoners, including heroes who carried out heroic military actions that led to the killing of Jews, soldiers, etc. Israel is trying to hide behind criteria that it calls 'those with blood-stained hands,' so as not to release prisoners, yet this deal includes heroes, such as Samir Kuntar, who carried out heroic actions in which Jews and soldiers died... This creates a new precedent."[PA TV (Fatah), July 6, 2008]
Hamas TV news after the release:
Ismail Haniyeh, Prime Minister (of Hamas, in Gaza): "Just as today a respectable exchange took place with the resistance [Hezbollah] in Lebanon, so we too are determined to achieve a respectable exchange deal for our prisoners in the jails of the Israeli occupation. The Israelis have to pay a price, and they must know that they will pay a price."
TV Newsreader: "The Palestinian prisoners regard this deal with great optimism and hope, now that Hezbollah has managed to break the Zionist equation which has opposed, for years, the release [of prisoners] who killed Zionists."[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas), July 16, 2008]Hamas cleric:
"I want to tell the residents of Gaza that the next captives' exchange deal will be stronger and more painful for the descendants of monkeys and pigs [i.e. Jews]... you [Israel] will pay dearly for this deal [prisoner exchange], and in the deals that will follow it, and in the deals that will follow those."[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas), July 18, 2008]
Additionally, the release of murderers serving life sentences in 2008 was seen by some as the end of Israeli deterrence:Prisoner, Al-Sayed, serving 35 life terms plus additional 150 years:"Life sentences of the occupation are meaningless... the success of the resistance [Hamas and Hezbollah] in kidnapping of occupation soldiers and the carrying out of [prisoner] exchanges have made these [prison] sentences meaningless."[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 19, 2008]
See more statements that followed the 2008 prisoner release, in body of report, below.
2009: Israel's offer to release murderers reinforces kidnapping strategyIn the last months of 2009, as both Arab and Israeli sources have reported that Israel has agreed to release Palestinian terrorists serving life sentences for murder in exchange for kidnapped Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit, Palestinian sources are again reporting that this release will be the motivation for the next kidnapping:
"As we have learned from the [past] stories of prisoner exchanges... and now - the Shalit deal. The [Israeli] message is clear and unequivocal. 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].'"[Abdallah Awad, Al-Ayyam, Dec. 3, 2009]
In 2009 the leaders of both the Fatah and Hamas movements reiterated their resolve to achieve the release of all Palestinian prisoners:
Mahmoud Abbas, PA Chairman:"We have 11,000 prisoners. We will definitely, always and forever, act to free them using all means."[PA TV (Fatah), Oct. 6, 2009]
Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas political bureau:
"The resistance (Hamas)... is capable of capturing another Shalit and another Shalit and another Shalit, until not a single prisoner will remain in the enemy's jails."[Hamas website, Oct. 2, 2009]
Technorati Tag: Israel and Gilad Shalit.