If you don’t understand why, don’t worry. You’re in good company. What Israel gets: The bodies of the two IDF soldiers killed in the Hezbollah raid that launched the 2006 war. What Hezbollah gets: The bodies of a few hundred Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners — plus five live prisoners, foremost among them Samir Kuntar. Who’s he? Let one of his victims explain:
Outside, we could hear the men storming about. Desperately, we sought to hide. [My husband] 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.
Yael died too, accidentally suffocated by her mother in her terror to keep the child quiet. Kuntar naturally denies beating Einat’s head in, but it ain’t his good looks that’s made him a cause celebre worthy of a hero’s welcome today in Lebanon. Follow that last link to LGF and note that Fuad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister and an opponent of the Syrian/Hezbollah axis, was compelled to attend, which makes the perverse incentive from the exchange twice as bad. Not only does it encourage more kidnappings of Israelis as barter — a lesson already learned by Hezbollah per the fact that they took the bodies of the two IDF soldiers with them after the 2006 raid — but it hands Hezbollah a propaganda victory at home at a time when their influence over the country is already frighteningly great. Why would Israel do it? Maybe Shmuel Rosner’s right that the country’s so small that it’s like extended family, with all strategic considerations sacrificed in the burning interest to have a loved one returned. If so, it’s no excuse; this is an absolute dereliction by the Israeli government of its national security duty. In fact, to see most starkly what’s going on here, watch the short clip of Hezbollah leader Sheikh Nasrallah openly taunting the families of the two dead soldiers shortly before the exchange by hinting that they might still be alive. He’s ripping open the wound for the sheer joy of doing it, and Olmert rewarded him for it. Disgraceful.