I am all for a military operation to free abducted soldier Gilad Shalit. Freeing Shalit in a military operation would represent Israel's spirit, the spirit of Entebbe, and would considerably strengthen our deterrence against further attacks. It could also put an end to the terrorist strategy of abducting our soldiers, just as the Entebbe operation put an end to their strategy of hijacking planes. Using the military to free Shalit would raise the philosophy of caring for fellow citizens, of all Jews being responsible for one another, to a new level. It would signify our soldiers' willingness to endanger their own lives to free an abducted comrade.
Despite all this, if a military operation would result in the deaths of many of our soldiers, I am against it. If I was in charge of the operation, and the military strategists estimated that it would cost 10 soldiers their lives, then I would veto the plan. Why? Because I support freeing Shalit, but not at any price. Even when a mission would bolster us, there must be a limit to the price we are willing to pay. The state is responsible not only for abducted soldiers, but also for those soldiers who try to free them.
I take the same stance regarding a prisoner swap for terrorists in Israeli jails. In this country, caring for one another is a primary value, which means our government must be committed to freeing Shalit from his captivity, even if that means paying a high price and taking risks. And just as any military operation has its risks, so do prisoner swaps. But we would not execute a military operation at any cost, so we must think the same way about the price of a trade for Shalit.
Our commitment to Shalit justifies releasing security prisoners from jails, despite the risks that come with setting them free. This is justified, but only up to a point. A deal that would most likely result in terrorist attacks and the subsequent deaths of many Israelis, or a deal that would invite the abduction of more of our soldiers, is morally inadmissable. The state is committed to Shalit's freedom, but also to the lives, wellbeing and safety of its other citizens, its children and even its soldiers, who all could lose their lives if the price for such an agreement is set too high.
History teaches us that deals like the 1985 Jibril Agreement, when Israel released 1,150 security prisoners in exchange for three Israeli soldiers, exacted from us a price that was too high. We must not allow history to repeat itself.