As Operation “Guardian of the Walls” draws to an end one can hear among former security officials and on the airwaves that Israel must act to promote a prisoner exchange in accordance with the practice that at the of a military campaign each party releases the other party’s soldiers and civilians that it captured. Additional argument heard was that framework of such transaction must be in a manner similar to prior prisoner exchange deals Israel was a party to with Egypt, Jordan, and Syria (e.g. Yom Kippur War, the War of Attrition, the Six Days War, etc.).
In fact, these arguments have been heard time and again over the course of the past 20 years when the IDF finds itself engaged in rounds of hostilities vs. terrorist organizations rather than a state actor’s armed forces. As one can see the above argument does not hold water and in fact no deal was ever struck based upon it, either in Israel or overseas. The author wishes to argue that even though there is an appropriate moral value to the above argument, it is unrealistic in the context of contending with terrorism and in fact may hinder the process of returning the four Israeli MIAs in Gaza, either soldiers or civilians.
To support the latter the author will detail the arguments that provide the basis for the above as well draw some practical conclusions, as follows: