Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, previously counted among the toughest leaders in the civilized world, has become softer than the secretary general of the United Nations.
Netanyahu recently ransomed a kidnapped Israeli soldier whom Hamas had held hostage since 2006. The price for Sgt. Gilad Shalit's freedom? Israel will free 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Many are hardened terrorists with Israeli and even American blood on their hands.
This colossal breach of justice for these victims injects this toxic population back into society. Some of them almost certainly will express their gratitude with machine guns and dynamite.
The first wave of 477 prisoners swapped for Shalit include at least three terrorists who have slaughtered Americans.
-- Ahlam Tamimi conspired to attack a Sbarro restaurant on August 9, 2001. This Jerusalem suicide bombing murdered 15 -- including Passaic, New Jersey's Shoshana Greenbaum, 31, -- and wounded 130 more.
Now carefree in Jordan, despite 16 life sentences, Tamimi has no regrets.
"It was a calculated act, performed with conviction and faith in Allah," she told a Hamas website. "Why should I repent?"
-- Abd al-Hadi Rafa Ghanim of Islamic Jihad grabbed the wheel of a Jerusalem-bound bus and steered into a ravine in 1989, killing 11 (including Philadelphia's Rita Susan Levin, 39) and injuring 27. Ghanim was serving 16 life sentences.
-- Ibrahim Muhammad Yunus Dar Musa received 17 years for, among other things, helping to murder Detroit native David Applebaum, 51, and his daughter, Nava, 20, on her wedding eve. Five others were killed and at least 50 wounded in a September 9, 2003 suicide bombing at Jerusalem's CafZ Hillel.
-- Abd al-Aziz Yussuf Mustafa Salehi famously waved his bloody hands from the window of a Ramallah police station, in which he and other members of a mob fatally flogged and killed Israeli reservists Vadim Norzhich and Yosef Avrahami. These October 2000 murders earned Salehi a life sentence.
-- Maedh Waal Taleb Abu Sharakh, Majdi Muhammad Ahmed Amr, and Fadi Muhammad Ibrahim al-Jaaba of Hamas planned a March 5, 2003 suicide bombing of Haifa's Bus 37, killing 17 and wounding 53. These murderers received 19, 19, and 18 life sentences -- respectively.
-- Nasir Sami Abd al-Razzaq Ali al Nasser-Yataima planned a Passover 2002 suicide bombing that killed 30 and wounded 140 at Netanyahu's Park Hotel, earning him 29 life terms.
Ignoring 469 other prisoners released on October 18, Israel soon will free another 550 dangerous characters -- all to rescue one Israeli soldier.
With all due respect and mercy for Shalit, this was a stupid, disproportionate, and likely deadly decision.
As Nadav Shragai wrote in Jerusalem Viewpoints, an estimated 50 percent of terrorists in previous Israeli prisoner swaps and "goodwill gestures" subsequently executed, plotted, or supported terror assaults. In fact, Israel previously freed participants in the aforementioned Passover massacre and CafZ Hillel bombing. Israeli officials twice discharged Ramez Sali Abu Salmim. He eventually blew himself up in CafZ Hillel.
In October 2010, the U.S.-Israeli Almagor Terror Victims Association counted at least 30 attacks involving Islamic extremists liberated by Israel's government. Almagor reports that 177 people have been murdered, and many others injured, in attacks that Israel could have prevented simply by keeping these savages caged.
While Israel now has complicated its own anti-terrorist vigilance, America cannot rest, either. Some of these freed killers will remain in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, from which they can attack Israelis. That would be bad enough.
Some of the more adventurous terrorists, however, might use their new and undeserved freedom to target Americans. As Israel's chief benefactor and staunchest ally, why not teach the Yanks a lesson by, say, blasting a U.S. bank branch elsewhere in the Middle East? Why not bomb Americans in Long Island or Los Angeles?
Rather than meaningless "life sentences," Israel immediately needs to enact and implement the death penalty. Terrorists neither can be demanded, nor exchanged, nor kill again while dead.
Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at deroy.Murdock@gmail.com