|Times of Israel's report tonight|
Tomer Hazan, 20, an IDF soldier who entered the West Bank was murdered in Qalqilyah during the weekend. Hazan's body was discovered on Saturday morning near Qalqilyah and his family was notified, the IDF spokesman said... A report that Hazan, a resident of Bat Yam, central Israel, went missing came in at 10 P.M. Friday after he hadn't contacted his family since Friday morning. The IDF, Shin Bet and the police set up a joint taskforce in an attempt to find him.The release of convicted Palestinian Arab terrorists from their Israeli prisons has become a political bargaining chip, and never more overtly than under the Netanyahu government.
Over the last day it was uncovered that Hazan, who worked in a Bat Yam restaurant together with Nadal Amar, a Palestinian resident of Beit Amin near Qalqilyah. Amar picked up Hazan on Friday and the two took a taxi to the Israeli West Bank settlement Sha'arei Tikva, located near Amar's village. Amar, who was arrested by security forces on Saturday, admitted that he led Hazan to a well north of the Palestinian town Sanriya, near Qalqilyah, where he murdered him and hid his body. A few hours ago, Amar led the Israeli security forces to the seven meter deep well where the body was hidden... In the investigation, the Palestinian suspect admitted that he committed the murder in order to bring about the release of his brother, Nur al-Adin Amar, who has been incarcerated in Israel since 2003 and is considered a Tanzim member involved in a number of terrorist attacks. [Haaretz]
We have said over and again that deals of this sort make no sense. They contravene basic notions of justice, and demean the victims. Worse, they are sometimes struck in stark contradiction to the express directions of the criminal courts that sentenced these men and women to lengthy terms in prison. In the absence of public debate or a structured legal process involving the courts, this can never be an acceptable strategy in a democratic society. It's morally and ethically wrong, and it does not work.
We say deals like the Gilad Shalit transaction in 2011 amount to the politicians usurping the role of the judiciary. In the case of our daughter's murderer, for instance, the judges who condemned her to sixteen life terms in prison for multiple acts of murder said that her sentence should never be commuted in any future deals. They understood the temptations to which political figures sometimes fall prey. They knew the defendant, whom they convicted on her own confession, and the horror that her life and deeds constituted. They understood the evil of which she was - and is - capable. They warned against letting her go free ever. And they were ignored by Israel's political echelon.
When a government demonstrates by its actions that pressure will cause it to free murderers and other terrorists from prison, then it is inviting that very pressure.
Today's tragic murder of 20 year old Tomer Hazan is a direct legacy of the 2011 Gilad Shalit transaction, of the massively unpopular deal announced on July 2013 to free 104 more convicted murdering terrorists, and of the announcement last week of yet another round of unrepentant terrorists, this time a further 250 prisoners, about to be let loose.
Tomer Hazan's murderer confessed that the killing was intended to extort the Israelis to free his brother. Wittingly or unwittingly, Israel's political echelon has successfully conveyed the message that they understand extortion, and are ready to be persuaded by it. What clearer encouragement could those who advocate for the imprisoned terrorists - the PA, Hamas, the families of the killers - possibly need?
The law must change. Convicted terrorists must serve the sentences determined by the competent courts of law that convict them. Allowing the power of wholesale commutation of the sentences of some of the most committed murderers on the face of the planet to remain, as it is today, in the hands of political deal-makers working from their smoke-filled rooms, is a catastrophic mistake. Given the very high stakes, this must be urgently corrected.