A consensus is emerging in Israel about what to do about the MIAs: We should do everything possible to free them, but doing so in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners would reward terrorism and encourage future kidnappings. The consensus breaks down at whether we should go for a deal anyway, or rather, stand firm and not give in. Much has been written and said about the MIAs but as far as I can see there has been one glaring oversight.
Every occasion that an Israeli has been kidnapped in the last fifteen years has been a result of an Israeli mistake. Gilad Shalit was kidnapped from the Kerem Shalom army base within Israeli territory after terrorists dug a tunnel under the border. From a military perspective this is a shocking error that should never have happened. Eldad Regev and Udi Goldwasser, as well as the three soldiers kidnapped in 2000, were in Israeli territory on the Lebanese border. There is no acceptable reason why terrorists should be able to break through what should be a rock solid border. Elhanan Tannanbaum was visiting Lebanon to do a drug deal and Nachshon Wachsman was hitchhiking in the territories. The common thread is that Israelis wouldn’t get kidnapped if we didn’t make mistakes.
So what’s my point? Whether we do a deal with Hamas and Hezbollah or not, they will always know that kidnapping tortures us. Far more important than trying to regain our deterrence by refusing a deal, is to simply make it impossible for them to kidnap anyone ever again. Just as the IDF is currently undergoing a major retraining in light of the failures of the Second Lebanon War, they should also be figuring out how to strengthen our borders and defend our army bases. A military as strong as our own should be able to protect its soldiers when they’re on sovereign Israeli territory. It’s as simple as that.
Olmert should do a deal straight away, give them whatever they want and bring our boys home… and never let this happen again.