Tuesday, October 29, 2013

29-Oct-13: Israel's High Court has spoken: the killers are now free to step into the awaiting limelight

Like the previous round on  August 14, 2013, tonight's release of 26 killers is likely
to be done in the dead of night. Ofer Prison [Image Source: Times of Israel]
Israel's High Court this evening dismissed a petition seeking to prevent the release of 26 additional convicted murderers, all of them avowed terrorists, from their Israeli prison cells. The releases will evidently take place in the small hours of Wednesday morning.

Such petitions are an inescapable part of the macabre dance in which Israel's terror victims find themselves. So too are the rejections routinely handed down by the state's highest judicial authority in matters like today's. The process, as we have found in our own very uncomfortable and embittering experience, underscores the powerlessness and sense of injustice that is integral to the role of being Israeli terror victims.

Five of tonight's freed convicts are already headed for Gaza at this hour. The remainder will go to Ramallah. We shudder at the thought of the public celebrations and proclamations of triumph (like those of three months ago: news video) that will certainly accompany the arrival of the killers back into the embrace of the society that formed them and sent them and - without any evident embarrassment or visible dissent - now lionizes them.

We would urge readers to file away mental notes of what was reportedly said in today's High Court hearing and the light it sheds on the role played in this sordid affair by the US government. The Times of Israel report attributes the following statement to the court representative of Israel's Attorney General:
The government gave its word, through the Americans, that at the start of the fourth month of negotiations — that is, today — the second stage would be carried out. For security-related reasons, it is necessary to complete the transfer and release at night … we must uphold our obligation,” the representative said.
This echoes the words of the prime minister, quoted here: When it comes to this issue, Netanyahu told fellow senior members of the Likud, "promises must be kept". Since Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly and explicitly denied that prisoners are being released as part of any peace process, it's clear which American party Israel's prime minister means when he refers to the promises he gave.

And what of the promises he made to Israel's citizens, and its terror victims?

For its part, those who speak officially for the US government have insisted (to us personally, for the record, as well as in the media) that the decision to free convicted killers is entirely Israel's. Pressure? No way, not us, they insist. We expressed our feelings about this some six weeks ago: see "14-Sep-13: Memo to Secretary of State Kerry: Your staff need some urgent guidance"

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