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A Fair Exchange? (Updated)
Posted by: MichaelW on Wednesday, July 16, 2008

You may recall that the spark leading to the Israel-Lebanon War of 2006 was the cross-border raid by Hezbollah militants resulting in the deaths of several Israeli soldiers and the abduction of two, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Hezbollah then sought the release of some of its brethren being held in Israeli prison as a condition of returning the two soldiers. Today, that exchange finally came to fruition. However, the exchange seems somewhat less than even (my emphasis):
Hezbollah handed the bodies of two Israeli soldiers to the Red Cross on Wednesday to be exchanged for Lebanese prisoners held by Israel in a deal viewed as a triumph by the Lebanese Shi'ite guerrilla group.

[...]

Two black coffins were unloaded from a Hezbollah vehicle at a U.N. peacekeeping base on the Israel-Lebanon border after a Hezbollah official, Wafik Safa, disclosed for the first time that army reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were dead.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) took the coffins to Israel. The Israeli army later said it had identified the cadavers as those of its missing men, Israel radio said.

The report said Israeli generals were on the way to notify the Goldwasser and Regev families.

"The Israeli side will now hand over the great Arab mujahid (holy warrior) ... Samir Qantar and his companions to the ICRC," Safa said at the Naqoura border on the Mediterranean coast.
For those keeping score at home, that two dead soldiers in exchange for a live "great holy warrior" and his buddies. So who is this infamous Sami Qantar? A child killer. Here's an account of his misdeeds from Smadar Haran Kaiser, the child's mother (my emphasis):
Abu Abbas, the former head of a Palestinian terrorist group who was captured in Iraq on April 15, [2003] is infamous for masterminding the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro. But there are probably few who remember why Abbas's terrorists held the ship and its 400-plus passengers hostage for two days. It was to gain the release of a Lebanese terrorist named Samir Kuntar, who is locked up in an Israeli prison for life. Kuntar's name is all but unknown to the world. But I know it well. Because almost a quarter of a century ago, Kuntar murdered my family.

[...]

It had been a peaceful Sabbath day [in 1979]. My husband, Danny, and I had picnicked with our little girls, Einat, 4, and Yael, 2, on the beach not far from our home in Nahariya, a city on the northern coast of Israel, about six miles south of the Lebanese border. Around midnight, we were asleep in our apartment when four terrorists, sent by Abu Abbas from Lebanon, landed in a rubber boat on the beach two blocks away. Gunfire and exploding grenades awakened us as the terrorists burst into our building. They had already killed a police officer. As they charged up to the floor above ours, I opened the door to our apartment. In the moment before the hall light went off, they turned and saw me. As they moved on, our neighbor from the upper floor came running down the stairs. I grabbed her and pushed her inside our apartment and slammed the door.

Outside, we could hear the men storming about. Desperately, we sought to hide. Danny helped our neighbor climb into a crawl space above our bedroom; I went in behind her with Yael in my arms. Then Danny grabbed Einat and was dashing out the front door to take refuge in an underground shelter when the terrorists came crashing into our flat. They held Danny and Einat while they searched for me and Yael, knowing there were more people in the apartment. I will never forget the joy and the hatred in their voices as they swaggered about hunting for us, firing their guns and throwing grenades. I knew that if Yael cried out, the terrorists would toss a grenade into the crawl space and we would be killed. So I kept my hand over her mouth, hoping she could breathe. As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust. "This is just like what happened to my mother," I thought.

As police began to arrive, the terrorists took Danny and Einat down to the beach. There, according to eyewitnesses, one of them shot Danny in front of Einat so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see. Then he smashed my little girl's skull in against a rock with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Kuntar.

By the time we were rescued from the crawl space, hours later, Yael, too, was dead. In trying to save all our lives, I had smothered her.
Qantar claimed to be fighting the good fight against a hated and oppressive enemy. Apparently he thought 4-year-old little girls were something to be afraid of. His family continues to deny that he had anything to do with the death of Danny and Einat, although no other explanation has been offered for how they were killed.
Former security prisoner Yasser Hanjar, of the Golan Heights village of Majdal Shams, served time in 1999, and for eight months shared a cell with Kuntar.

[...]

Hanjar recalled a time when Kuntar told him his version of the events.

"Samir said it was his sincere belief in the armed struggle against Israel that motivated him to undertake the mission," he said.

However, Hanjar continued, "he said he had no intention of killing anyone. He wanted to take Israelis hostage, and certainly not kill them."

He also said Kuntar firmly rejected allegations he had smashed the head of 4-year-old Einat Haran, one of his victims.

"This is the Israeli version," he quoted Kuntar.
However, Qantar has also expressed remorse for the death of little Einat:
Samir Qantar, meanwhile, has expressed regrets about the death of four-year-old Einat. “The girl was innocent,” he admitted. “She was a little girl and there was no reason she should die. This girl is a very tragic story. It disturbed me then and will haunt me for the rest of my life.”
So nice for him then that he'll get to see what Einat never will again: his family alive.

Meanwhile, in Lebanon, Qantar is treated as a hero:
Qantar's expected release comes after long and difficult negotiations led by the Lebanese Shia movement. Many wonder whether the former leftist activist and fierce advocate of secular society in Lebanon can start a political career.

For the last three decades, Qantar has been following the news in the Arab world from his prison cell. He regularly makes himself heard on the Lebanese landscape through letters addressed to his fellow countrymen and high-profile politicians.

In an interview done in Hebrew and published in the Israeli daily, Maariv on July 8, 2005, Qantar revealed that he had been given an offer through his lawyer to be a candidate in the 2002 parliamentary elections. Qantar rejected the offer, refusing to “take advantage of his suffering to win a seat in Parliament.”

A resistance hero

In Lebanon, many consider it too early to discuss a possible political career while Qantar is still away from home. But some already see him as an MP or as a leading opposition figure. “As a resistance hero and a model of persistence, Qantar is destined to play a role on the political stage,” said Nazih Hamzé, Secretary General of the People’s Democratic Party, to which Qantar used to belong in his youth. The conditions of Qantar’s introduction to the Lebanese political stage, known for its complexity, still needs to be defined.
To recap, a terrorist conducts a midnight raid into Israel, kills some policemen and a civilian in front of his little girl, and then smashes in the head of the little girl before being captured and sentenced to jail. Over the years, several further terrorist actions are carried out to free him from jail, including the infamous Achille Lauro hijacking. Eventually another cross-border raid takes place, leaving seven Israeli soldiers dead, and two captured, and sparking off a month-long war. For two years the terrorists hold out these two captured soldiers as bait in their persistent attempts to win the release of a child killer. Finally, Israel relents and what do they get in return for their agreement to send the great holy warrior back to his fawning admirers in Lebanon? Two more dead soldiers.

Israel might want to consider making the exchange more even.

UPDATE: Underscoring just how much Hezbollah and the Israelis differ not just in how they respect life, but also in how they respect their enemies, is this little tidbit from the Bloomberg report on the exchange (HT: Linda Morgan in the comments):
``Today we hand over the two Israeli soldiers that the resistance captured on July 12, 2006, and whose fate was uncertain until this moment,’’ Hezbollah’s Wafiq Safa said as the caskets were taken from two vehicles and laid on the ground before international television crews. Behind him was a banner that said in English, ``Pain in Israel, Joy in Lebanon.’’
There's Shadenfreude and then there's just ghoulishness.
 
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I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near Qantar for the foreseeable future.
 
Written By: Arcs
URL: http://
It just goes to show the value of life and the respect for even a dead person by the Israelis. I can’t think of any other country that would trade 2 dead for 200 dead and 5 live terrorists! Obviously, different people have different values. Personally I think Israel should NOT have done this exchange as it will only lead to more kidnappings as the Hezbollah Terrorists know how much the Jewish people value and respect life and even the deceased.
 
Written By: Steven H.
URL: http://
1) The exchange is lopsided- in Israel’s favor. The bodies of 2 soldiers brought home for their families, in return for a sub-human? Those 2 soldiers are worth thousands of that type of scum

2) I’d bet that sometime in the future you read a story about Israel taking this guy out.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
F*ck that. Drug him, strap an explosive vest to him, then send him stumbling across the border to his waiting Hezbollah *sshole buddies. As soon as they embrace him, detonate his f*cking ass.

I haven’t felt this much rage since seeing the video of Nick Berg being beheaded. F*ck these subhumans. Kill them all.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://repatriate.blogspot.com
From the first I read on this today:
``Today we hand over the two Israeli soldiers that the resistance captured on July 12, 2006, and whose fate was uncertain until this moment,’’ Hezbollah’s Wafiq Safa said as the caskets were taken from two vehicles and laid on the ground before international television crews. Behind him was a banner that said in English, ``Pain in Israel, Joy in Lebanon.’’
Let it not be said that Hezbollah doesn’t know how to throw a party.

What can you say, except for everything that Jeff just did?

(Great post, MichaelW. Thanks for all the background. I had forgotten about the Achille Lauro connection.)
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
Olmert has so much trouble at home, I think he’ll clutch at ANY straw to stay in the PM’s Office a little longer. He’s facing indictment for corruption. I wouldn’t expect a lot from the man.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I hope all of those who want to turn the war on terror into a criminal investigation play close attention to the sequence of events in this story.

Then again, anyone who celebrates a thug like Che Guevara isn’t going to be too put off by the actions of these goons.
 
Written By: the wolf
URL: http://
I hope all of those who want to turn the war on terror into a criminal investigation play close attention to the sequence of events in this story.
Trouble is, they consider it a win for them.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
You’ll never get this background info from the MSM. They really have no way to cover this story "fairly".
 
Written By: rob
URL: http://
(Great post, MichaelW. Thanks for all the background. I had forgotten about the Achille Lauro connection.)
Thanks, Linda. And thanks for the link. The post has been updated to include it.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://qando.net
There’s Shadenfreude and then there’s just ghoulishness
There’s fecklessness and then there’s just complete and total obtuseness to a country’s political or strategic needs. Honestly speaking, with this action the Jewish State has completely ceased to be a refuge of any significance whatsoever to Jews anywhere. The USA should open its borders for Israeli citizens to flee as refugees as their government has completely forfeited any consideration for their safety and wellbeing.
 
Written By: CR
URL: http://
"with this action the Jewish State has completely ceased to be a refuge of any significance whatsoever to Jews anywhere"

Well, that was the ideal, but I don’t think it has ever been realized. Israel has never been an actual refuge for Jews. "Out of the frying pan and into the fire" seems to be a more appropriate description
.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
i would have give back the hez terrorist with bullets in their faces
 
Written By: user
URL: http://

 
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