The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has pointed to a number of recent developments – including efforts by the terrorist group Hamas to abduct Israeli soldiers and the arrest of a network of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorists planning to abduct Israelis – in arguing that Israel must not repeat the tragic mistake of freeing jailed terrorists in return for the lives or corpse of kidnaped Israelis. In particular, it must not repeat the October 2011 freeing of 1,027 Palestinian security prisoners in exchange for Hamas-kidnapped Israeli serviceman, Corporal Gilad Shalit.
Recent developments include:
- According to Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet, 33 kidnapping attempts by Palestinian terrorist groups have been foiled since the beginning of the year, indicating a steep rise over 2012’s total 24 thwarted attempted kidnappings. “The senior officials told Yedioth Ahronoth that the prisoner exchange deal which secured the release of Gilad Shalit encouraged Hamas to attempt additional kidnappings” (Yossi Yehoshua, ‘Sharp rise in Hamas attempts to abduct soldiers,’ Yediot Ahronot, April 12, 2013).
- Israeli forces arrested Amir Barakat, 25, who was trying to obtain a weapon for an attack when Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet, arrested him. Barakat had been persuaded by Amir Dokan, a former Palestinian prisoner who was released by Israel in the deal with Hamas to free kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, to carryout the attack. The Shin Bet has warned that “There has been a notable increase recently in military operations by those [prisoners] who were freed in the ‘Shalit deal’ and went to the Gaza Strip.” (‘Shin Bet: Prisoners freed in Schalit deal returning to terrorism,’ Israel Hayom, April 18, 2013).
- In January 2013, four Palestinian Islamic Jihad cell members, two of whom are Israeli citizens, were arrested by Shin Bet and police on suspicion of several attempts to abduct Israelis. A car search found ropes, scotch tape, knitted hats, a utility knife and a mock gun, said to be meant to aid in the abduction the cell planned for New Year’s Eve. Following a further Shin Bet interrogation eight suspects from the Jenin area were also arrested. Three of those arrested confessed that for two days they made several attempts to abduct Israeli soldiers and citizens from public transport stations around central Israel, but failed since no one consented to get in their car. The Shin Bet stated, “The affair illustrates once again the terrorist organizations’ intentions to abduct Israelis to use as a betting chip in prisoner release negotiations, with the active involvement of terrorists already in Israeli prisons. Terrorist organizations are continuing to try and use Arab-Israelis to further their cause, taking advantage of the freedom of movement the Israeli ID allows them as well as Arab-Israelis ability to smuggle Judea and Samaria residents in their car” (Naama Cohen Friedman, ‘Terrorist cell plotting to kidnap Israelis nabbed‘, Yediot Ahronot, February 3, 2013).
- In February 2013, a Fatah official, Kadoura Fares, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, a nongovernmental organization dealing with prisoners’ rights, threatened an increase in Palestinian violence if four hunger-striking jailed Palestinian terrorists held in administrative detention in Israel are not immediately released. The prisoners are protesting the repeat arrest of Issawi and Ayman Sharawna, who were released as part of the Shalit prisoner exchange in October 2011 but were subsequently taken back into custody by Israel, and the administrative arrest of Tareq Qaadan and Jafar Azzidine. (Elhanan Miller, ‘
- Fatah official warns of violence if prisoners aren’t freed,’ Times of Israel, February 19, 2013).