My initial reaction to the recent Palestinian militant demands in relation to the captured Israeli soldier was, in a sense, predictable.  “Women and children held by the Israelis? How dispicable!”  After thinking about it though it is, like just about everything to do with the middle east these days, nowhere near that simple.

When you consider the numbers (the prisoners in question make up less than 1% of the Palestinians in Israeli prisons), they don’t seem that unusual.  It would be more unusual if there were no women and children held given the current situation.  Being a woman does not make you incapable of crime and I would be highly surprised if any of the children in question are much younger than, say, 15.  You’d expect a proportion of teenagers (probably male) to be included in detention.

The real question is whether they should be there, and that’s not a question you can answer without proper legal process.  I don’t know if they have that or not.  I doubt anyone on either side will ask.  That would be an inconvenient question at best.