Friday, October 18, 2013

18-Oct-13: Two years after the mass release of killers and other terrorists, a cry of pain

Click for the Jerusalem Post article
Frimet Roth's op ed appears (in slightly edited form, under the title "Releasing terrorists only encourages terrorism") in today's edition of the Jerusalem Post. Its publication coincides with the second anniversary of the day on which no fewer than 1,027 convicted killers and assorted other convicted terrorists were set free by the Israeli government in order to secure the release of a kidnapped hostage, the soldier Gilad Shalit. Among those who walked free two years ago is the woman who confessed (proudly) to engineering the massacre at a central Jerusalem pizza shop a decade earlier. That woman, the principal murderer of our teenage daughter Malki, now lives freely in Amman, Jordan from where she regularly speaks to public meetings and via her own television program in enthusiastic and unimpeded support of the killing of Jewish children.

Two years after mass release of terrorists, Israeli leadership is doing it again

October 18th marks two years since the Shalit Deal. On that day, our daughter Malki, was murdered a second time.

That is how we felt when Ahlam Tamimi was freed along with 1,023 other terrorists in the deal struck to rescue kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas. Twelve years earlier, Tamimi chose the target, transported the bomb and led her accomplice by the arm to Jerusalem’s Sbarro restaurant where she instructed him to detonate the 10 kg. of explosives he carried on his back. Fifteen children, women and men, among them our precious Malki, perished in the inferno. On this day in 2011, our prime minister allowed Tamimi to return triumphantly to her home in Jordan.

A self-confessed, convicted, unrepentant mass murderer, sentenced to 16 life terms, Tamimi was included in the deal despite our pleas to Netanyahu that her name be removed from the list. In our letters, we reminded him of an interview in which Tamimi smiled broadly upon learning that she had murdered eight children, several more than she had presumed.

Few Israelis are aware of the letters that my husband and I and several other victims sent our prime minister over the last three years imploring him to meet us. Not once has he, or his office, responded.

Following the Shalit Deal, Netanyahu announced that he had written to the families of the victims of terror. His office insisted that “many” such letters were delivered to the post office. Neither we nor any other such families – and we have asked dozens – ever received such a letter.

Given the scant media attention, not many know that last year our prime minister allowed Tamimi’s fiancĂ©, also a murderer released in the Shalit Deal, to leave the West Bank in order to marry her and settle in Jordan.

This was contrary to an explicit written condition of the fiance’s release prohibiting him from ever exiting the West Bank. Once again, our pleas – both written and by phone - that the permission be refused, were ignored.

In August 2013, it was announced that 104 prisoners would be released in three tranches to jump-start renewed negotiations with the PA. The Shin Bet’s Yoram Cohen warned at the time: “Their release will damage security, both in terms of immediate threat to public safety and in terms of an erosion of deterrence.”

Then last month, Al Hayat reported that Israel had agreed to release a further 250 convicts. Presumably, Netanyahu sees these as easy concessions to make to Abbas and Obama. After all, no outrage has emanated from the 86% of Israeli Jews who, according to a poll, strongly oppose their being set free.

The latest media buzz is that a third intifada is brewing. There has been a sharp jump in the number of terror attacks in the West Bank: from 68 in August to 104 in September.  

This week we learned of the discovery of a 1.5 mile “abduction tunnel” constructed by Hamas. Fifty feet underground, the Hamas construction penetrated a quarter of a mile into Israel. The news sent shock waves throughout the country.

survey published by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion last month found [according to this Jerusalem Post report] that 58% of Palestinians expect a third intifada to erupt if an agreement is not reached with the Israelis during the current negotiations. With 70% of Palestinians and 80% of Israelis certain the talks will fail, a new intifada looks, at the very least, highly likely.

Yet our serial releaser-of-murderers, Mr. Netanyahu, is immutable and  unchallenged. Even objections from seven right-wing cabinet ministers fizzled out almost as soon as they were uttered.  The “settlement candy” that Netanyahu is wont to dole out after each release no doubt buys the right’s docility.

Potential killers are now flush with the confidence that if caught they will be freed shortly afterward.

There is one aspect of the releases that has been glossed over even by their opponents: Netanyahu’s usurpation of the judiciary. He has discarded not only court sentences but, in certain cases – including our Malki’s murderer – explicit judicial recommendations that the defendants never be included in any deals.

The very foundations of our democracy are being undermined.  

Oddly, Netanyahu himself best expressed the dangers that his releases pose. In a recent “open letter” posted on his website, he addressed his constituents after announcing the release of the 104 prisoners. "This is an incredibly difficult decision,” he wrote [source]. “It hurts the bereaved families, it hurts all of the Israeli people and it hurts me very much. It clashes with the most important principle, the principle of justice.”

Of course, those words only make his decision to pursue these releases more confounding.

When the world’s democracies are unified in battling Islamist terrorism, Israel – a prime target for terrorists – is looking askance at its own terrorist enemies. Once an exemplar of counter-terrorism strategy, Israel has, thanks to Netanyahu, become a terror-enabler.

We, the victims of terror who feel the pain of releases of terrorists like a knife stab, have been left to battle this alone. The first tranche of the 104 prisoners were transported home in the dead of night. Obviously our government is keen to hush and hide this outrage. We must not allow it to slip under the radar any longer.

FRIMET ROTH is a freelance writer in Jerusalem. Her daughter Malki was murdered at the age of 15 in the Sbarrorestaurant bombing (2001). With her husband Arnold. she founded the Malki Foundation. It provides concrete support for Israeli families of all faiths who care at home for a special-needs child.

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