A phone call this morning from the Pardons Board (& freed murderers kill again)

October 14, 2011

[You can see more photos by scrolling down the page .]

Above: Malki Roth, murdered aged 15. Her killer, who is one of those being released for Gilad Shalit, last week again said she was proud of killing Malki and the others

* Within the last hour, relatives of the victims of the Sbarro pizzeria bombing and other terror attacks received phone calls from the Israel Prisons Pardons Board informing them that the killers are about to be released.

* According to Israeli security bodies, about 50 percent of the terrorists freed in past prisoner exchanges have returned to terrorism, either as perpetrators, planners, or as accomplices. Hundreds of Israelis have been murdered, and thousands wounded, by freed terrorists.

Among them:

* After his release in 1996, Abbas ibn Muhammad Alsayd was involved in three terror attacks in Netanya, including the Park Hotel Passover massacre on March 27, 2002, in which 31 people were murdered and 155 wounded.

* After his release by the Netanyahu government as a “goodwill gesture” to Yasser Arafat, at the behest of Bill Clinton in 1998, Iyad Sawalha perptrated the June 5, 2002 bus bombing at the Megiddo junction, murdering 17 people and wounding 42.

* Seven months after his release, Ramez Sali Abu Salmim blew himself up in Jerusalem’s Café Hillel on September 9, 2003, murdering 7 young people and wounding over 50.

* Matsab Hashalmon was released from jail as part of the “Tennenbaum deal” on January 29, 2004. Three months later, on August 31, 2004, he masterminded the attack on two buses in Beersheba, that killed 16 civilians and wounded scores of others.

* The list of freed terrorists and their victims goes on and on.

 

There is a further dispatch on this subject here.

You can comment on this dispatch at www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia. You first have to press “Like” on that page.

 

CONTENTS

1. A phone call this morning from the Pardons Board
2. “Terror victims divided over Shalit prisoner swap” (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 12, 2011)
3. “To ransom or not to ransom?” (By Aryeh Tepper, Jewish Ideas Daily, June 7, 2011)
4. “Releasing terrorists: New victims pay the price” (By Nadav Shragai, JCPA, Aug. 24, 2008)


A PHONE CALL THIS MORNING FROM THE PARDONS BOARD

[Note by Tom Gross]

The dispatch concerns the proposed Gilad Shalit prisoner swap. Many murderers will be released in return for the kidnapped young Israeli. Among them are two terrorists who helped carry out the Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria bombing in August 2001, in which 16 people, many children, were murdered and dozens horrifically injured. Those terrorists are serving sixteen consecutive life sentences. They have shown no remorse for what they have done. Quite the opposite last week they again said how proud they were of their actions.

While virtually everyone wants to see Gilad Shalit freed, many in Israel (and elsewhere) are very unhappy with this deal given Israel’s past experience when (in order to secure the release of kidnapped Israelis) Israel released convicted murderers who subsequently returned to Israel to kill again.

Many regard the prisoner exchange Israel has reached with Hamas as an enormous victory for terrorism and a setback for Israeli security.

Among those interviewed in the first article below is Leah Schijveschuurder, whom I have written about before in 2001, and then again in 2004, when I wrote:

www.tomgrossmedia.com/mideastdispatches/archives/000041.html

Among others killed in that Sbarro Pizzeria bombing were five members of the Dutch-born Schijveschuurder family of Holocaust survivors. Among the many funerals I attended as a reporter covering the Intifada for British and American newspapers, the Schijveschuurder family funeral was perhaps the most moving.

Leah Schijveschuurder, aged 11, and very badly injured in the attack, insisted on being carried on a stretcher, with breathing tubes in her nose, through a crowd of hundreds of mourners, to attend the funeral of her father, mother and three murdered siblings – aged 2, 4 and 14. Her surviving sister (aged 9) was too seriously injured to attend.

Leah’s grandmother, Elisheva, a Dutch-born Auschwitz survivor, who lost her mother, father, sister, and brother in Nazi death camps, said at the funeral: “I vowed to rebuild my family after the war, and I that is what I did. Now for my family, Arafat has finished what Hitler started.”

As a reporter, I also attended the funerals of other victims the day after that bomb: of Yocheved Shoshan, aged 10; and of Tamara Shamilashvili, aged 8, from Russia, who was buried alongside her mother, Lily, who was also killed in the blast. Over 1000 Israelis, most of whom did not know Lily, attended the funeral.

Some of the other victims of the Sbarro pizzeria terror attack

***

Arnold Roth, a subscriber to this email list, whose 15-year-old daughter Malki was murdered in the Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria, wrote (2004):

“Everything in our lives changed forever when Malki, our middle child, a delightful fifteen year old girl with a constant smile on her beautiful face, was killed on 9th August 2001.

“She was not caught in the crossfire of some battle. She was not a bystander. She was murdered with fourteen other Israelis [and two Americans] in a restaurant in the middle of the day, in the middle of this city.

“The women and children in that pizza restaurant on a hot school-holiday afternoon were the actual target. The terrorists who planned the massacre took their orders from a pediatrician and from a minister of religion in a wheelchair.

“They picked their target with exquisite care. The bomber was the son of a land-owning wealthy family. The other gang members were mainly university-educated and well traveled. To call them ‘desperate’, as many journalists have done, is to completely twist the meaning of the word ‘desperate’.”

***

Now a few minutes ago (Friday morning, October 14, 2011), Arnold writes to me:

“We received a phone call a few minutes ago from the director of the Department of Pardons at Israel’s Ministry of Justice notifying us of the official decision to release two prisoners convicted of carrying out the Sbarro restaurant massacre. The woman, Tamimi, will be exiled to Jordan. Her accomplice, Muhammad Douglas, will be exiled outside Israel’s borders. Where that is, we don’t know but it hardly matters. He and she will have their lives to live, despite having been sentenced in a court of law and after a full and proper trial to sixteen consecutive life sentences. And despite (in her case) having expressed pride in what she did, and an utter lack of remorse.”

-- Tom Gross

The Sbarro pizzeria shortly after the attack


TERROR VICTIMS DIVIDED OVER SHALIT PRISONER SWAP

Terror victims divided over Shalit prisoner swap
Jerusalem Post
October 12, 2011

In a sea of ecstatic supporters dancing and singing outside the Shalit family tent at midnight on Tuesday, a somber Lea Schijveschuurder stood silently, alone, to remind the masses that Gilad Shalit’s release after 1,935 days in captivity comes at a heavy price. Across from the Shalit tent, she held a sign that read “The blood of my parents is screaming in their grave.”

“Do they want them to kill more people?” a tearful Schijveschuurder asked the Post as she stood opposite the Shalit tent and fended off arguments from Shalit supporters. “For me, enough people have died.”

While it is still unclear if the terrorists involved with the Sbarro attack will be on the list of 1,027 prisoners to be released, the Israeli public will grapple with Schijveschuurder’s difficult question as preparations begin to bring Shalit home.

“There will be a public argument, there will be an argument between one pain and another pain,” said Shimshon Liebman, the head of the Campaign to Free Gilad Shalit, early on Wednesday morning as the crowds began to thin out. “We need to be courageous to pay a price and to stay strong. One of our soldiers is worth much more than theirs are. We’ll survive the appeals because at the end of the day the Jewish morals are stronger than anything else for the people of Israel,” he said.

The head of the Almagor Terror Victims Association, Meir Indor, slammed the prisoner swap deal. “The Shalit family wins and the state loses,” he said. “It’s a victory for terror and Hamas.”

“We know from our experience that hundreds of people will pay with future terrorist attacks, and that they’ll organize and more kidnappings,” Indor added.

According to Almagor, since 2004, 183 Israelis have been killed in terror attacks carried out by terrorists who were released from prison.

“How many will be killed for Shalit?” he asked, before heading into a marathon of meetings to prepare appeals to the High Court of Justice to halt the deal.

Indor accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of giving into popular pressure, and trying to do something to take the focus of the social protests from the summer, despite denouncing the practice of prisoner exchanges during his political career and in his book.

He denounced the government for sending a clear message to terrorists: “Go ahead and do terror. Continue to kill Jews. There’s no justice and no paying for it. It’s a revolving door and the system of terror is working in Israel.”

But many terror victims supported the deal. Kay Wilson, who survived a terror attack last December which killed her friend Christine Luken, said she cried with happiness when she heard that Gilad Shalit was coming home.

The trial of the terrorists who stabbed Luken to death and severely wounded Wilson just started last month, so it is highly unlikely that they will be included in the prisoner swap because they have not yet been sentenced.

Wilson said despite her support of the prisoner swap, she would have “very mixed feelings” if the men who had perpetrated the terror attack were eventually released. “I would feel that the country has done me a personal injustice,” she said on Wednesday. “On the other hand, there’s justice for another family. It’s the stupid dilemma we live with.”

“Emotionally, it’s healthier to celebrate life rather than to get stuck with loss,” Wilson said. “Death is horrible, but there’s something very redeeming about returning one of our own.”

She added that as a survivor, she had a different perspective from people like Schijveschuurder, who had lost multiple family members. Still, Wilson disagreed with the idea that the country must weigh who is in more pain, the Shalit family or the victims of terror.

“I don’t think you can ever compare pain because everyone’s experience is subjective,” she said. “On the other hand, if you experience death, it’s ghastly but there is a closure. It’s agony of waiting and non-closure and not knowing [of the Shalit family] that’s almost more horrendous because they can’t get on with their life.”

Wilson said the thought of eventually releasing terrorists who perpetrated the attack against her in a future swap had plagued her since the news broke, but she still support Aviva and Noam Shalit.

“Of course that’s a huge fear [of their eventual release],” she said. “But I don’t think that if they weren’t released, we could have stopped terrorism anyways. It’s like cutting the grass - you can get rid of some, but it keeps growing back. It’s not like if you keep these people in prison there’s not going to be terrorism, they’re breeding terrorists through poverty and lack of education, and it’s a much more complex problem.”

 

TO RANSOM OR NOT TO RANSOM?

To Ransom or Not to Ransom?
By Aryeh Tepper
Jewish Ideas Daily
June 7, 2011

The PLO’s first attack on Israel came in 1965, when Mahmoud Hijazi and five other terrorists attempted to bomb a water-pump station in southern Israel. Once captured, Hijazi received the second death sentence ever handed down in Israel (Adolf Eichmann’s being the first). Though his sentence was later overturned, the story was far from over.

A new chapter began on January 1, 1970, when Fatah terrorists crossed into Israel from Lebanon and kidnapped a guard stationed in the border town of Metulla. That man, Shmuel Rosenwasser, was brutally tortured by his captors for over a year, until the Israeli government exchanged Hijazi for Rosenwasser’s release: a one-for-one deal.

Nine years later, the terms had already shifted, and the price for prisoners skyrocketed. In exchange for an Israeli soldier who had been abducted in Lebanon by Ahmed Jibril’s especially murderous branch of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Israeli government released 76 PLO operatives, 20 with “blood on their hands.”

In 1985, Israel agreed to the infamous “mother of all prisoner exchanges,” again with Jibril’s PFLP, trading 1150 Palestinian prisoners for three Israeli soldiers. The exchange came in for harsh criticism, with Haaretz’s veteran military analyst Ze’ev Schiff writing at the time that with each successive agreement, Israel was “conceding more and more to the terrorist organizations” and thus demonstrating greater and greater weakness.

Schiff passed away in 2006, before Israeli concessions reached a previously unthinkable acme in a 2008 prisoner swap with Hizballah. In that exchange, Israel freed five terrorists, including the notoriously savage Samir Kuntar, plus 200 bodies, in exchange for the bodies of two IDF soldiers. It was the first time that Israel traded live terrorists for corpses.

Israelis take great pride in their commitment never to abandon one of their own, whether dead or alive, behind enemy lines. But does the willingness to pay any price to bring home fellow Israelis reflect communal solidarity, or does it instead reflect an increasingly defeatist mentality? A recent conference at Hebrew University examined the legal, psychological, and political dimensions of negotiating with terror organizations for the release of Israeli captives. The painful dilemmas that these negotiations pose are exemplified in the heated discussion around the fate of Gilad Shalit.

In 2006, Shalit, then a twenty-year-old IDF corporal, was captured by Hamas in a cross-border raid. Since then, he has become the literal poster child for captive soldiers: His face is ubiquitous in Israeli media, and his agonized family meets regularly with the public and with government officials alike to press for his ransom. His captors in Gaza are well aware of Shalit’s hold on the Israeli imagination, and have made numerous demands and threats, setting the bargaining terms at a scale of unprecedented imbalance. Thus, during the day-long conference, familial concern for Shalit went hand-in-hand with fear of the consequences of negotiating his release.

In the session devoted to the psychological dimension of captivity, Itamar Barnea powerfully evoked the horrors of the condition by narrating his experience as a prisoner of war in Syria. Toward the end of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Barnea, an Israeli fighter pilot, was shot down and seriously injured. He spoke in heartrending detail of how, as a POW, he lost control over his environment, became utterly dependent on his captors, and was reduced to a state of childlike helplessness. Barnea, a staunch proponent of the ransom of captives, today counsels other soldiers through their traumas.

The following session, military analyst Ronen Bergman implicitly criticized Barnea’s emotional approach, in terms similar to those laid out in his study of Israel’s war for its POWs and MIAs, By Any Means Necessary: “A very thin line runs between the solidarity deriving from the good deed of ransoming prisoners and the chilling panic that deters politicians from doing what is necessary and saying what should be said, no matter how difficult.”

In other words, however compelling the personal arguments for ransoming captives (and the military conscription of all Israeli citizens makes the arguments unavoidably personal), Israel ignores at its own peril the unintended – but at this point undeniable – consequences of such a calculus. By paying “any price” to bring Israelis home, Israel undermines the sacrifices made by soldiers sent to free captives – especially those soldiers who end up giving their lives during rescue operations. By rewarding terrorists, Israel weakens Arab moderates and harms Israel’s deterrence efforts; and by trading living terrorists for dead IDF soldiers, Israel undermines the captors’ motivation to keep Israeli POWs alive, not to mention healthy and safe.

Most perversely, by paying exorbitant ransom prices – as Israel has done in the past and as public pressure overwhelmingly favors – Israel gives terror organizations an incentive to kidnap more of its citizens. But since that situation is already in play, is there anything Israel can do to stem the tide of its children taken into captivity, and to reduce the terror groups’ motivation?

Researchers Justus Reid Weiner and Diane Morrison point out the risk factor of Israel’s current policy of imprisoning terrorists:

“Because Israel eschews the death penalty, Israel keeps terrorists alive in Israeli custody and thereby inadvertently creates a “bait” situation where terrorist groups attempt to free their men by ransoming newly-kidnapped Israelis.”

The admittedly harsh conclusion implied in Weiner and Morrison’s argument is that Israel should return to the situation that existed before Mahmoud Hijazi was exchanged for Shmuel Rosenwasser and reinstate the death penalty for terrorists. This argument was made explicitly by Ze’ev Schiff, for whom sentencing terrorists to death was the lesser of a number of possible evils:

“In the fight against terrorism, we should not refrain from using the death sentence in cases involving acts of brutal murder. Somebody killed by the court is preferable to the killing of prisoners by our soldiers or the release of murderers as an act of surrender.”

But the death penalty for terrorists isn’t going to be reinstated any time in the near future, if ever, and in the meantime, the Israeli public continues to insist that their government is obligated to bring Gilad Shalit home, even at the cost of the release of hundreds or even thousands of Palestinian terrorists. Bergman praised Netanyahu for so far withstanding public pressure. The prime minister will most likely continue to do so, but at the same time, he must keep trying to bring Israelis to the recognition of a bitter truth: that true mercy sometimes dictates harsh policy.

 

RELEASING TERRORISTS: NEW VICTIMS PAY THE PRICE

Releasing Terrorists: New Victims Pay the Price
By Nadav Shragai
Jerusalem Viewpoints (JCPA)
August 24, 2008

* The Israeli Cabinet approved on August 17 the release of almost 200 Palestinian security prisoners as a “goodwill gesture” to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. The list includes several prisoners “with blood on their hands,” who, by definition, were involved in the murder of Israelis.

* According to an informal estimate by Israeli security bodies, about 50 percent of the terrorists freed for any reason whatsoever returned to the path of terror, either as perpetrator, planner, or accomplice. In the terror acts committed by these freed terrorists, hundreds of Israelis were murdered, and thousands were wounded.

* Israel freed 400 Palestinian prisoners and five other prisoners in return for Elhanan Tannenbaum, who was held captive by Hizbullah, and for the bodies of three soldiers kidnapped on Mount Dov. According to Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Tzahi Hanegbi, from the date of the deal on January 29, 2004, until April 17, 2007, those freed in the deal had murdered 35 Israelis.

* An investigation by the Almagor Terror Victims Association in Israel revealed that at least 30 of the terrorist attacks perpetrated since 2000 were committed by terrorists freed in deals with terror organizations. Many were freed in the framework of goodwill gestures because they were defined by Israel as “without blood on their hands.” The bloody swath cut by these terrorists claimed the life of 177 persons, with many others wounded and made invalids.

ANOTHER “GOODWILL GESTURE”

In anticipation of the return to the Middle East of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Israeli Cabinet approved on August 17 the release of almost 200 Palestinian security prisoners as a “goodwill gesture” to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. The list includes several prisoners “with blood on their hands,” who, by definition, were involved in the murder of Israelis.

Since 1985 the State of Israel has freed over 10,000 Palestinians who were serving prison sentences for hostile activity or terror actions, and this resulted in the murder and death of hundreds of Israeli citizens. Some of the Palestinian terrorists were freed in the framework of deals with terror organizations that involved the exchange of a few isolated Israelis who were taken captive by the terrorists, for hundreds and thousands of terrorists. Another portion were freed in the framework of what were termed diplomatic “goodwill gestures.” Sometimes the terrorists were freed because their prison terms had been concluded or shortened. [1]

According to an informal estimate by Israeli security bodies, about 50 percent of the terrorists freed for any reason whatsoever returned to the path of terror, either as a perpetrator, planner or accomplice. In the terror acts committed by these freed terrorists, hundreds of Israelis were murdered, and thousands were wounded. [2] In the case of the Jibril deal in 1985, the Israel Defense Ministry determined that 114 out of the 238 who were released returned to terrorism. During 1993-1999, 6,912 terrorists were freed in the wake of various diplomatic agreements, and 854 of them (12.4 percent) returned to terrorist activity, carried out terrorist attacks, murdered or planned to harm Israeli citizens, and were reincarcerated. [3]

Israel freed 400 Palestinian prisoners and five other prisoners in return for Elhanan Tannenbaum, who was held captive by Hizbullah, and for the bodies of three soldiers kidnapped on Mount Dov. The deal was transacted in Cologne, Germany, on January 29, 2004. According to the information provided by Knesset member Tzahi Hanegbi, the chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, from that date and until April 17, 2007, those freed in the Tannenbaum deal had murdered 35 Israelis. [4]

A comprehensive investigation recently conducted by the Almagor Terror Victims Association in Israel revealed that at least 30 of the terrorist attacks perpetrated since 2000 were committed by terrorists freed in deals with terror organizations. Many were freed in the framework of deals, understandings, or goodwill gestures because they were defined by Israel as “without blood on their hands.” The bloody swath cut by these terrorists claimed the life of 177 persons, with many others wounded and made invalids. These statistics have been informally confirmed by security officials. [5]

VICTIMS AND MURDERERS

Dr. David Applebaum, head of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Shaarei Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, and his 20-year-old daughter Nava, were murdered by a suicide bomber on September 9, 2003, when they went to Café Hillel on Emek Refaim Street in central Jerusalem. Nava was to be married the next day. The murderer, Ramez Sali Abu Salim, from Rantis, northwest of Ramallah, had been freed from an Israeli prison in 2002. He was rearrested a few months later, but was freed again on February 20, 2003. Seven months later he was sent by the Hamas command in Ramallah to commit a terror attack in the heart of Jerusalem.

Also killed in this terror attack were Alon Mizrachi, 20; Gila Moshe, 40; Yehiel Emil Toubol, 50; David Shimon Avizdris, 51; and Shafik Yihya Karem, 22, from Beit Hanina. An additional 60 people were wounded.

The famous Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in Israeli prison for five acts of murder, was arrested for the first time in 1976 for hostile activity. After being freed, he became one of the leaders of the first intifada in 1987. Arrested again by Israel, he was expelled to Jordan. Permitted to return in the framework of the Oslo agreements (1994), he became the general secretary of the Fatah organization on the West Bank. With the start of the second intifada, Barghouti became the leader of the Tanzim, which was responsible for many terror attacks against Israelis. Some were carried out under the name of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. In April 2002 he was arrested, placed on trial, and in May 2004 he was convicted of five acts of murder. The prosecution waived 21 additional murder charges and 33 other charges. [6]

Sheikh Ahmed Yasin was first arrested in 1983, after guns were seized in his home. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison for holding weapons, establishing a military organization and calling for the liquidation of the State of Israel, but was freed by Israel 1985 in the framework of the Jibril deal. [7] In 1987 Yasin established and headed the terror organization Hamas. In 1989 he ordered the killing of Palestinians suspected of collaboration with the IDF and the Israel Security Agency, and he subsequently commanded the kidnapping and murder of two Israeli soldiers. For these crimes, Yasin was given a life sentence. He was freed in 1997 as part of an agreement between Israel and Jordan after the botched assassination attempt by the Mossad on Khaled Mashaal in Jordan. After his release, Yasin resumed preaching violence and terror, and the IDF and the Israel Security Agency reported to the government that Yasin was involved in planning terrorist attacks on the operative level. On March 22, 2004, he was killed by missiles fired by Israel Air Force combat helicopters. [8]

FREED MURDERERS KILL AGAIN

Abdullah Abd Al-Kadr Kawasme was originally arrested in 1988, following the murder of policeman Nissim Toledano, and was exiled together with 400 Hamas and Jihad activists. Upon his return to Israel, he was imprisoned and charged with membership in Hamas and involvement in hostile terrorist activity, and was released in 1994. He was responsible for many terrorist attacks including the infiltration into the community of Adura on April 27, 2002, where four people were killed, including five-year-old Danielle Shefi. Kawasme was also responsible for the infiltration of the community of Carmei Tzur on August 6, 2002, in which three people were murdered; two suicide bombings carried out in tandem in Jerusalem on May 18, 2003, in which six people were killed and 20 wounded; and a suicide bombing in Jerusalem in June 2003 in which 17 people were killed and 105 were wounded. Kawasme was killed by the IDF on June 21, 2003.

Karim Ratteb Younis Awis was serving a life sentence for causing the death of a collaborator, but was released in a goodwill gesture to the Palestinians. On November 27, 2001, he dispatched two terrorists who opened fire on civilians at the central bus station in Afula, murdering Michal Mor and Noam Guzofsky and wounding an additional 84 people. [9]

Nasser Abu Hameid, who had been given five life sentences for the murder of five collaborators, was released in September 1999 in the framework of the Sharm el Sheikh Agreement. After the outbreak of the second intifada, he was documented mutilating the corpses of IDF reserve soldiers Vadim Norzitz and Yossi Avrahami. In December 2000 he murdered Binyamin and Talia Kahane near Givat Zeev. In February 2002 he was involved in plotting the terrorist attack in which policewoman Galit Arbiv was murdered in Neve Yaakov, and he commanded the murder of Gadi Rejwan in the Atarot industrial zone in northern Jerusalem. In March 2002 he was responsible for a terror bombing at the Seafood Restaurant where Eliyahu Dahan, Yossi Havi, and policeman Salim Barakat were murdered. In December 2002 he was sentenced to seven life terms for the murder of seven Israelis and was convicted of 12 counts of attempted murder and additional crimes.

Abbas ibn Muhammad Mustafa Alsayd was released in 1996 after three years in prison for directing disturbances in Tulkarm. He was responsible for many terror attacks and in September 2005 he was convicted of murdering 35 people and wounding hundreds in the terror attack at the Park Hotel in Netanya on the eve of Passover, March 27, 2002, and at the HaSharon Mall in Netanya on May 18, 2001. [10]

Matsab Hashalmon was released from jail as part of the “Tennenbaum deal” on January 29, 2004. Three months later he recruited suicide terrorists Ahmed Kawasme and Nissim Jaabari, who blew themselves up on August 31, 2004, on two buses in Beersheba, killing 16 civilians and wounding scores of others.

Iyad Sawalha headed the military wing of Islamic Jihad in Samaria. He was imprisoned for two years for his involvement in the murder of collaborators and was freed in 1998 in the wake of the Oslo Accords. On June 5, 2002, he was responsible for blowing up a bus at Megiddo junction where 17 people were murdered and another 42 were wounded. On October 21, 2002, he was responsible for detonating an explosive-laden jeep near a bus at Karkur, leaving 14 people murdered and scores wounded.

The list of freed terrorists and their victims goes on and on.

ISRAEL’S DILEMMA

The Victims of Arab Terror International has appealed many times to the High Court of Justice against the freeing of terrorists, but all the petitions have been rejected. In one of the petitions (High Court of Justice case 914/04), Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levi expressed the dilemma that he finds himself in as a justice and as an Israeli citizen when confronted with the freeing of terrorists, and their reversion to the path of terror.

This is not the very first time that by virtue of agreements it signed, the State of Israel frees terrorists who sowed death and destruction in our midst. After every such prisoner release, the hope reverberated in many hearts that this time a change would ensue and those freed would no longer return to the path of terror and could possibly even serve as ambassadors for disseminating the idea of peaceful coexistence. It would seem that there is no need to elaborate to what extent this hope was in vain, and it might be more fittingly defined as a false illusion. If we needed further proof that those freed were not intent on peace, one can find it in the bloody events that have accompanied us since October 2000. Many of those whom Israel had in the past set free participated in these horrific events. These incidents have taken their toll in human life, sometimes as an everyday occurrence, and altered the lives of the wounded victims' families from top to bottom. I saw myself forced to concur with the decision of my colleagues, and with trembling hand I added my signature, and with the sole hope that beats inside me, namely that those who adopted the decision and have a complete picture before them and whose shoulders bear the responsibility to ensure the safety and security of Israeli citizens were persuaded that the decision that they adopted was the correct one, despite the terrible risk involved for all of us in the freeing of the miscreants. [11]

CONCLUSIONS

Hundreds have been murdered and many more wounded in terrorist attacks perpetrated by terrorists who have been freed from Israeli prisons.

There needs to be a change in the “rules” that have crystallized in recent years where thousands of terrorists are released in return for isolated kidnap victims. This will limit the damage, for fewer freed terrorists will be free to return to the path of terror. One should not pay any price in order to bring about the release of kidnap victims or captives.

Furthermore, the terrorists that Israel frees in return for captives should not be freed into the West Bank, but abroad, as was done in certain cases in the past. This will make it harder for them to injure residents of the State of Israel.

***

Notes

1. From a discussion with a military source.

2. From a discussion with a military source.

3. According to a senior figure in Central Command.

4. Confirmed by Knesset member Tzahi Hanegbi to the writer.

5. For further details, see the full investigation on the Almagor Terror Victims Association website www.al-magor.com/39719/

6. The security report, the reports of the Almagor organization, and the verdict and sentence handed down against Barghouti.

7. The Jibril deal involved an exchange of captives that took place on May 21, 1985, between the Government of Israel headed by Shimon Peres and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command, a terrorist organization headed by Ahmed Jibril. In the framework of the exchange, 1,150 prisoners and security detainees who were imprisoned in Israel were freed in exchange for the return of three Israeli captives: Hezi Shai, Yosef Grof and Nissim Salem, who had been taken captive by Jibril's organization at the time of the First Lebanon War. The deal was supported by all the ministers in the Israeli government, both from the Labor Party and the Likud, with the sole exception of Yizhak Navon. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners were freed in the territories and most of them, as almost all the security bodies concur today, constituted the backbone of the leadership for the first intifada that erupted three years later.

8. From newspaper reports and a security report summing up the incident.

9. From the sentence of the military court in Beit El, file 3478/02: “The crimes for which the accused is paying the penalty today, demonstrate that the gesture extended to them was not justified and that it led to the killing of additional innocent citizens. The danger posed by the accused was clear after he had already been convicted of murder in the past. The need to keep them at a distance from human civilization forever was also self-evident. After his release, the accused demonstrated that the gesture was unjustified and the steep price for this was paid by many Israeli families.”

10. The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report on the terrorist attack at the Park Hotel in Netanya from March 2004, as well as a report by the Almagor organization.

11. High Court of Justice 914/04, Victims of Arab Terror International against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, 2004 (1) pp. 781-783.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.