Today Israeli soldier Gilad Shilat was released after 5 years in Palestinian custody in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

As a mother with a son close to Gilad’s age, I can only imagine how happy his mother must be, to hold her son in her arms, to touch his face again. But I am trying to understand how the value of one Israeli is worth 1,000 Palestinians?

There are Welcome Home, Gilad, signs in Hebrew, hanging on the walls of the Old City in Jerusalem along with the ubiquitous yellow ribbons. I had assumed that the symbol of the yellow ribbon was concretized in the kitschy American song made popular in the 70’s by Tony Orlando and Dawn, Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree. A quick Google search however shows that the yellow ribbon has been a symbol of waiting for a soldier away at war for centuries. Hence the much earlier song, Around her Neck She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.

Although released from Israeli prisons, most of the Palestinian prisoners do not get to come home to the West Bank. They are either being placed in Gaza, Syria, Jordan, or Turkey. They will not see their yellow ribbons.