There was no easy way to obtain Gilad Shalit's release, especially since the feckless Olmert-Livni government did nothing to rescue him during the critical first few days after his kidnapping. (Ironically, had he not been kidnapped, he'd have been court martialed for sleeping on guard, which is why he was taken.) As a very perceptive friend of mine noted, Israel should have given Hamas a daily ultimatum: Release Gilad Shalit or we will pulverize 'x' suburb in Gaza. Civilians would be aware of the need to leave, and then we would level it. If he hadn't been released, we should have continued: OK, release Shalit or in twenty minutes the port of Gaza will be destroyed, and so on. No other sovereign country would or could do less.
Olmert, however, did not stand tough. The Israeli government, once again, cared more for its PR image than for the safety of its citizens. Shalit was buried deep with in Gaza. Once that happened, it was only a matter of time that we would have to release unrepentant murderers in return for Shalit.
Personally, I'm torn. As the father of a soldier, I understand and identify with the Shalits. However, I also know that these animals that we are turning loose will murder again. Gilad Shalit will be home, but dozens, God forbid, of others will be thrown into a tail spin of grief from which they will never recover, because we paid this price. We have, once again, displayed weakness in the face of an enemy, who only respects force and fortitude, and who has absolutely no respect for human life.
It's a lose-lose proposition. I hope that the media circus that is about to descend upon us, led by Leftists who will always celebrate anything that makes Israel weaker, will give serious coverage to the renewed grief of parents and children, spouses and siblings who must now see the murderers of their loved ones free and feted by the Palestinians.