Gilad Shalit Deal: Was Israel Crazy like a Fox?
Sun Tzu’s Art of War shows how Shalit deal could place thousands of Hamas at risk
by Bill Levinson
Now that Gilad Shalit is safely at home and Hamas cannot go back on what could have been a deadly mistake, we can discuss a theory to the likelihood that Israel is neither as stupid nor as pusillanimous as it looks. Sun Tzu’s Art of War, which Mao Tse Tung adopted as the guide for his very successful revolution, shows how Hamas might have played squarely into the hands of the Mossad and/or Shin Bet. Israel might have just planted 50, 100, or even more double agents among the Palestinians who will cooperate (for example) in setting up Hamas terrorists to be killed, or locating Palestinian rocket batteries for destruction, whenever Israel considers this necessary.
Sun Tzu wrote,
- The enemy’s spies who have come to spy on us must be sought out, tempted with bribes, led away and comfortably housed. Thus they will become converted spies and available for our service.
The context of the otherwise inexplicable exchange for Gilad Shalit provided an opportunity for Israel to put this into practice, as Israel could not have otherwise released any prisoners whose loyalty it had turned without drawing suspicion to them. If Israel had just let them go, Hamas’ first question would be, “Why did they let you go?” and they would have been watched very carefully. Al Stewart’s Roads to Moscow, which might have been based on the life of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, elaborates further.
- And now they ask me of the time
That I was caught behind their lines and taken prisoner
“They only held me for a day, a lucky break”, I say;
They turn and listen closer
I’ll never know, I’ll never know
Why I was taken from the line and all the others
To board a special train and journey deep into the heart of holy Russia
And it’s cold and damp in the transit camp, and the air is still and sullen
And the pale sun of October whispers the snow will soon be coming
And I wonder when I’ll be home again and the morning answers
Joseph Stalin’s paranoid minions wondered how the Russian soldier (possibly based on Solzhenitsyn) escaped from the Germans, speculated that the Germans might have turned him and then released him, and sent him to Siberia without further delay. This is why Israel could not simply release any prisoners it had turned; they would have been similarly noticed.
The Shalit deal, however, provided Israel with the perfect opportunity to release every converted prisoner among the thousand that Hamas demanded. Now Hamas has no cause to watch any specific individual, and it probably lacks the resources to watch all thousand. Even if it did, surveillance might alienate the majority of the released terrorists who really support Hamas’ cause. The Mariel boatlift of Cuban refugees offers a parallel explanation:
- Cubans were immediately granted refugee status and all the rights that went with it. Additionally, public opinion towards Cuban refugees was initially favorable.
This situation changed because of the perception that the refugees included “undesirables”, such as criminals and mental patients. It is alleged that Castro arranged for the inclusion of criminals and the mentally ill among the political and economic refugees in order to damage the image of Cuban exiles.
Palestinian opinion toward the freed prisoners is similarly favorable, and they are being welcomed home with open arms and no questions asked. “No questions asked” is very good when some of them might now be ticking time bombs for Hamas, waiting only for a clandestine order to carry out an intelligence or espionage mission.
How could Israel have turned some of the imprisoned terrorists? Freedom is one incentive, noting that a terrorist who refused to change sides could have been left in prison while somebody else–either somebody who would cooperate or a relatively low risk offender who didn’t matter–was freed in his place. Money could have been added, including money up front and money as an incentive to do what Israeli intelligence agencies wanted done. E.g. “We may someday want you to attach a GPS transponder to the car of a senior Hamas official so we can arrange a rendezvous with a drone-fired missile, and here is how we will contact you to give you the transponder and a suitcase full of small unmarked bills when the job is done.” We are not in the intelligence business, though, and it is quite likely that the kind of people who run the Mossad, or the CIA and FSB for that matter, know how to do it properly. Somebody like Vladimir Putin would surely know how to do it.
The fate of Adolf Eichmann should remind Hamas that Israel has a very long reach indeed. Eichmann was captured and hanged because his own son talked to somebody to whom he should not have talked, but had no reason to believe was not to be trusted.
We must point out that we are privy to no country’s secrets, and that this article is pure albeit educated speculation. There is no other conceivable reason why Israel would have released 1000 prisoners, including convicted terrorists who were serving life sentences, in exchange for one person whose release could probably have been extorted through straightforward military superiority. If various Hamas leaders begin to die inexplicably because the IDF somehow knew where to find them, or if concealed military assets like rockets get blown up because somebody told the IDF where to look, this explanation is probably the best.
Note also that our speculation does the enemy absolutely no good even if he reads it and our theory is accurate. As we said, 1000 freed prisoners is a pretty big haystack in which to look for a few needles (or scorpions).