I am constantly surprised by the nobility of the human race and also its depravity. Some time ago, a very large, old, leatherback sea turtle – an endangered species – had been caught in a fisherman’s net off the Gazan coast. The creature was hauled ashore and surrounded by a large crowd. One of the men in the crowd explained to a reporter how the turtle meat would feed local children, who were suffering due to the Israeli occupation, and the blood would help cure various ailments. The turtle was dragged behind a truck, flipped over on its back, and slaughtered. Further up the Mediterranean coast, a much younger and smaller sea turtle had been injured by a boat and lost one of its limbs. The turtle was rescued by some Israelis and then taken to a special turtle sanctuary where it was operated on, restored to health and then released back into the sea.
The papers have been full of the trade-off of over a thousand Hamas prisoners, most serving life, for one Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit, who was seized by Hamas militants in a cross-border raid more than five years ago and held in Gaza. The campaign for his release has been tireless. In Israel, the list revealed why the country has found the trade so unpalatable, demeaning and gut-wrenchingly unfair: the majority of the inmates were convicted of manslaughter, attempted murder or intentionally causing death. Back on the streets, radicalised by prison, the chances of many of them mending their ways seem slim.
Those being freed include the founders of Hamas’s armed wing and militants who kidnapped and killed Israeli soldiers and civilians. A co-conspirator in the 2001 bombing of a Jerusalem pizzeria that killed fifteen people will walk. Ahlam Tamimi, then only twenty years old, had disguised herself as a Jewish tourist to accompany the suicide bomber to the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road, a busy pedestrian precinct. She later commented that she was not sorry for what she had done and does not recognise Israel’s existence. “Despite the fact that I’m sentenced to 16 life sentences I know that we will become free from Israeli occupation and then I will also be free from the prison” she said.
I make no comment here about the right of the Palestinian people to have a self-governing homeland but those who seek to obtain it by depraved and godless means deserve the full and unremitting weight of moral law to fall upon their heads. Those who, with Promethean hubris, seek to steal Heaven may find themselves ultimately the worse off in the bargain.