The imprisonment of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Palestinian forces in the Gaza Strip is a tragic event. But even more upsetting than his situation is how simplistically his captivity is portrayed by major American media outlets.
Recently, calls have increased for the release of Gilad Shalit and PM Netanyahu has agreed on the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit’s release. Answering such a proposal, especially given the seemingly generous terms for the Palestinians, appears a no-brainer. But American news stories about this exchange leave out some crucial details which make the release of these 1,000 imprisoned Palestinian men, women, and children rather unpalatable.
According to regional media sources, such as Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu’s offer has two conditions attached. The first is that dangerous terrorists would not be released, a precaution against future Palestinian attacks on Israelis. The second condition would disallow the released Palestinians from entering the West Bank, even if that is where they and their families live. Instead, according to Netanyahu, the Palestinians would go to the over-crowded Gaza Strip or Tunisia. In agreeing to this proposal, an exchange of prisoners would happily reunite one man with his family and in fact exile or resettle 1,000 other people.
Israel’s offer thus counters what many Palestinians desire, reunion with loved ones, as these 1,000 men and women would be sent to far-away locations. Such resettlement, to the Gaza Strip, Tunisia or other foreign locations, would provide many barriers to the possibility of any future reunion.
When it comes to the Middle East, and especially Israel-Palestine, the situation is never clear-cut and simple. The American media should thus read through the fine print and at least attempt to portray the complicating circumstances in each situation instead of omitting crucial details that unfairly skew events.