Israel's release of imprisoned terrorists today and yesterday can be understood against the decades-long historical background. This was not the first such confidence-building prisoner release. It might not be the last. But ignoring the past outcomes... that's not smart.
A few instances to mull. (And more here.)
Arrested first in 1976; released and became a leader in the first Arafat War ("intifada"). Arrested and expelled to Jordan; then allowed to return in 1994. Became head of the Tanzim terrorists in 2000, supervising multiple terror attacks, and the deaths by murder of 35 Israelis. Arrested again in 2002, sentenced after a highly-public and full criminal trial to five life sentences. Current status: PA is demanding his release. The Israeli security service (Shabak) objects, but numerous Israeli politicians believe nothing good will come from the dialogue with the Palestinians until Barghouti is released and takes his place as their leader. Many Israelis believe this is hopelessly misguided. Meanwhile he's in prison.
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin
First arrested in 1983. Released a year later as part of the Ahmed Jibril exchange. Became a founder of Hamas in 1987. Then arrested for ordering the kidnapping and killing of two soldiers and sentenced to life in prison. Israeli government decided to release him in 1997 as part of the apologies that followed an unsuccessful assassination of Khaled Mashaal, an arch Hamas terrorist. Yassin continued to organize terrorist attacks until he was killed by an Israeli pin-point rocket attack in 2004.
Released from prison in 2000. Went on to head the Hamas military wing from where he oversaw multiple terror attacks, including the infiltration into an IDF outpost in which four soldiers were killed, and the terror attack on Atzmona where five young students were killed. Was quoted in May 2002 on the Islamic Online Web site saying: "One should prepare children carefully before carrying out attacks and recruit them into a special military section of [Hamas] in order to teach them the culture of jihad". His career ended in an IDF air attack on his home in 2002.
First arrested in 1988 and then exiled by Israel to southern Lebanon in 1992. Upon his return to Israel he was imprisoned, and when released in 1994, he returned to his home in Hebron. Although arrested by the Palestinian Authority, he was released and allowed to return to his Hamas operations at the start of the Intifada. Kawasme became commander of Hamas's Izz-a-din al-Kassam military wing in March 2003. Supervised many terror attacks and more than 40 Israeli deaths: nicknamed "Father of the Ticking Time Bombs. Killed in an Israeli operation while trying to escape arrest in June 2003.
Karim Ratab Yunis Awis
Sentenced to life in prison in 1991 for intentionally causing the deaths of several Palestinian Arabs regarded by his circle as 'collaborators'. Released in another "confidence-building' gesture by the government of Israel. Subsequently in November 2001, he despatched two terrorists to fire on Afula's central bus station: 2 killed, 84 wounded. In March 2003, he despatched a human-bomb to Jerusalem's King George street where he murdered three and wounded 81 others. Re-arrested, and at his trial the court observed that his release led to the murder of additional innocent people. "The level of danger the accused poses was clear after he was found guilty the first time. The need to remove him from human society forever was obvious. After his release, the accused proved that this gesture was not justified, and a very high price was paid by many Israeli families". Now serving multiple life-sentences in an Israeli prison. Until...?
Nasser Abu Hameid
Spent 13 years in Israeli prisons after being sentenced to several life sentences for murder. Released by Israel in September 1999 in the Sharm-a-Sheikh 'understanding'. Subsequently was personally involved in the lynch mob that murdered two Israeli servicemen in 2000, personally murdered several other Israelis in 2000 and then in 2002 seupervised a series of terror attacks that cost the lives of several more. Sentenced in Jerusalem's District Court in December 2002 to seven life sentences and 50 years imprisonment after confessing to the murder of 7 Israelis and convicted on 12 counts of attempted murder and other crimes. Still in prison for now.
Abbas Mahmoud Al-Said
Imprisoned for his role in riots in Tul Karem in 1993. Released in 1996 and then convicted in 2003 of supervising the Passover massacre at Netanya's Park Hotel (30 killed, 144 injured) and other attacks. Still in prison for now.
The full list is a good deal longer.