By Kikiowo Ileowo

Abduction is not a new phenomenon; it’s a known occurrence world over. The Gilad Shalit story is a very interesting account that steers deep thoughts whenever the subject comes to heart.

The Israeli nation is not new to captivity and oppression, right from the days of the Egyptian and Babylonian slavery to the more recent Ottoman enslavement, affliction in the hands of the enemy had been their lot until recently. The country had been plundered for centuries until 29th November, 1947 when their present location was carved out by a United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181. The resolution sought to divide the country into two state, one Arab and one Jewish. Jerusalem was designated to subsist as an international city- a corpus separatum- Administered by the United Nations.

Following the UN decision to partition Palestine, on 14th May 1948, David Ben Gurion the executive head of the World Zionist Organization, and President of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared Israel a state independent from British Mandate for Palestine.

Since then, the Palestinians has fought tooth and nail to establish a sovereign state for themselves but disagreement over land borders caused by the 1967 six day war has basically stalled the birth of the new nation. One of the problems that arose on the Palestine side is that they got divided in their struggle for statehood. Various group emerged, though, the UN recognise the Palestine Liberation Organization of Mamoud Abbas which constitutes the Palestine National Authority. Other factions in Palestine are Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, Army of Islam, Jund Ansar Allah which is linked to Al Qaida. The Western States consider these latter groups as terrorist organizations with each having its own strategy of achieving a sovereign Palestinian State. What links these latter groups is their opinion that Israel should not exist as a sovereign state talk less of existing side-by-side with it. The only differing view from this unrealistic idea is that of the Palestinian Authority which holds that Israel can only exist on the 1967 border.

Gilad Shalit is not the first-to-be captured Israeli soldier; in October of 1994, 19 years old Nachshon Washsman was captured and abducted for 6days by Hamas in the Bnai Atarot junction of central Israel and subsequently killed during a failed rescue attempt. Before he was captured, he had proceeded on leave but was called to a one-day training course in northern Israel and on his way back, he was abducted.[[i]]

The core of this article is not to dissect the violence that occurs frequently, caused by Palestinian-statehood-struggle or Israel’s right to self-defense. Rather, it’s an exposé on Israel’s loyalty to pay a heavy price for just one of her citizens.

Gilad Shalit born 28th August 1986 in Nahariya to Noam and Aviva Shalit, has an elder brother and a younger sister. “Despite a low medical profile, he preferred to serve in a combat unit, following his older brother, Yoel into armoured corps.”[ii] Gilad holds dual citizenship of Israel and France, the latter being via is grandmother. When he was 18years old, he was conscripted into the Israel Defence Force (IDF) like every other young male Israelite who are mandated to serve 3years in the army and on a reserve duty till they are 40years old.

He was captured inside Israel on the 25th of June 2006 by Hamas militants who crossed the border near Gaza through an underground tunnel. The Hamas militants held him for over five years, until he was released on 18 October 2011. He was released in a deal that secured his freedom after more than five years in isolation and captivity, in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian convicted prisoners, including some convicted of multiple murders and carrying out terror attacks on Israeli civilians.[[iii]]

This exchange was preceded by an earlier prisoner-for-DVD-swap to confirm Gilad is still alive, the exchange saw the release of 20 female convicted criminals to the Hamas group for evidence of Shalit being alive.[[iv]] What a price to pay, even though the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was willing to pay a heavy price but not any price just to see the return of one of its own.

What makes this story of great importance and lesson to generations to come is the fact that the Israeli government found it fit to equate 1,027 damned criminals to 1 soldier. Understand that these 1,027 criminals are not just some petty thief who stole wrist watch or picked pocket, they are collectively responsible for the death of 569 Israeli civilians.[[v]][[vi]]

In the past, exchange had taken place; examples abound about how the Israeli leadership released prisoners just to take the remains of her own. This tells you the height to which they value lives and the container that holds it. How I wish government world over especially in Africa can duplicate this noble act of loyalty to humanity. For a moment, forget the concept of who is right or wrong in the age-long battle for the ‘land flowing with milk and honey.’ It’s a simple principle which we must all learn, preach and practice always. The principle holds: EVERY LIFE IS IMPORTANT.

The above stated principle negates the concept of “acceptable collateral damage” some countries are known to practice. I remember vividly a live rescue programme on Fox News of a dog whilst the world was just coming out of the global credit crunch. I think it was in August or September of 2009. Few minutes after a dog strayed into a river, an helicopter was scrambled which hovered around for hours with a rescuer hanging down, police officers and 1st responders worked diligently to rescue this ‘lucky’ dog in the state of Carlifonia. Interestingly, the dog was rescued. The total cost for the operation was estimated around $20,000- hmmm, lot of money to spend on such a task during a global economic meltdown.

The Benjamin Netanyahu government has taught the whole world a lesson, how he got the mathematical formula to arrive at 1=1027 is still a wonder to great mathematical geniuses and professors. Moreover, who cares where he got the formula, it has saved a life and a generation. Who knows what could have happened if the patriarch Isaac had been sacrificed on the mountain?

Just weeks ago, on the 16th of October 2011 to be precise, a young man Victor Emmanuel was allegedly shot and killed by the police in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State for simply daring to ask if they went to church that Sunday morning. What this means is that ‘some’ Nigerians do not value the human lives they ought to protect, please note the word SOME. Victor Emmanuel was shot 5times and was shot severally after he fell to the ground along Sani Abacha Expressway.[[vii]] Over in Israel, they value a human life much more than 1,027 killers.

In the 1970s, when an armed robber was caught, they were taken to the bar beach on the Victoria Island and in front of the crowd, they are tied to the stake and summarily executed in the public. More recently, there was the era of jungle justice where alleged robbers are caught and burnt on the street. These inhuman and barbaric executions did not reduce armed robbery in the long run; it made SOME of us develop a heartless lifestyle.

SOME leaders amass wealth corruptly; what belongs to all is converted into personal use. It’s appalling for you to personalize public wealth leaving the population to suffer due to your compassion-less behavior. SOME mentally derailed are left on the street where they make a means of livelihood from the nearest refuse dump they find. There is no perfect society anywhere, but these are little things we can do to better the psyche of our citizenry.

Nigeria is a great nation, a nation of brilliant and intelligent folks in every field of human endeavor, but if we don’t shift our paradigm and start placing values on the things that matters most, the vision of becoming the most desirable nation to live on earth by 2025 will end of a mirage.

We need a total overhaul, from the political class to the governed, from the business class to the workers, and from the old to the young. Let start placing value on every life because we all are an important part of this great family. I don’t support the idea of discrimination nicknamed state of origin, we are Nigerians simple. If we are going to distinguish, maybe we should do it based on State of Residency. Has a politician, it’s time you start respecting the wish of your people and value them because they matter to your office and ambition.

Let start going the extra mile to make sure fellow citizen get treated right, stand by and for the truth, stand by justice, and generations to come would thank you for making such stand for the sacred principle- EVERY LIFE COUNTS!

[v] Army Radio newscast, 20 October 2011


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