Conflict & Justice

Ehud Barak: Israel to put an end to lopsided prisoner swaps


Freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit takes a walk outside his home in Mitzpe Hila, Israel. Ehud Barak announced Thursday that Israel would be imposing stricter rules on prisoner swaps.


Uriel Sinai

Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced Thursday that stricter rules would be put in place regarding uneven prisoner exchanges, such as the one that freed Sargent Gilad Shalit.

Shalit, who was held by Hamas for five years after being captured in a cross-border raid, was exchanged for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in October 2011. Over 400 of those prisoners were high-profile criminals convicted of manslaughter, attempted murder or intentionally causing death. 

More from GlobalPost: Gilad Shalit back in Israel after prisoner swap (VIDEO) 

Barak spoke to Israel Radio on Thursday about a classified report that detailed guidelines for handling negotiations regarding abducted soldiers, The Washington Post reported.

The report was submitted to Barak by the Shagmar Committee, which he assembled in July 2008, after the bodies of Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were returned to Israel in exchange for four Hezbollah fighters and the bodies of nearly 200 Lebanese and Palestinians, and terrorist Samir Kuntar, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The Committee recommended that Israel not conduct any more large-scale prisoner exchanges. 

"There is no choice. We have to change the rules fundamentally to protect the state’s overall interests,” Barak told Israel Radio. He also said that the crucial part of the report’s conclusions were on “how to approach the negotiations, in what framework, with what rules, and I think it’s clear that the rules will be a lot stricter,” according to The Washington Post. 

Israel has made a number of prisoner exchanges in the past in addition to Shalit's. In 1985, it traded 1,050 prisoners for three Israelis captured during the Lebanon War, The Washington Post reported.

"We have to get off the slippery slope we ventured on 25 years ago," Barak said. 

More from GlobalPost: Israel: Politics behind the prisoner swap