The list of the 199 prisoners to be released has been finalized and published, and it is likely that they will be released at the end of the month.
The Shin Bet (Israeli security) is extremely unhappy about what is taking place. Security agents work diligently to put these terrorists behind bars, only to find their work undone when they are released early for political reasons.
According to correspondent Shlomo Tzena, writing in the news publication Yisrael Hayom (Israel Today), neither the Shin Bet nor the IDF were consulted before the Cabinet made its decision, but were instead informed after the fact. According to Tzena, the decision was made in a matter of minutes, so that those arriving late missed the vote.
Shalom Harari — a senior research scholar with the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and previously a senior adviser on Palestinian affairs to the Defense Ministry — has expressed the opinion that this release will not really benefit Fatah anyway. Saying that Fatah was in an extremely vulnerable state, he predicted that the release would likely be “forgotten after two days.”
Based on what he’s seen in the past, Harari is not encouraged that we are likely to meet positive attitudes from Fatah for what we are doing:
“On the morning after the [previous] release, we heard Fatah blaming Israel. Whatever happens, they will blame Israel and fault everyone except for themselves.”
He explained that while many may not take up terrorism again, they present another risk:
“…while these terrorists may not go back to fighting, many will go back to indoctrinating others into terrorism, and creating a terror-supporting environment. Some will recruit on campuses, others will become so-called ‘journalists,’ while others will be integrated into institutions or sent abroad.”
Because two of the terrorists released fit into the category of having blood on their hands, there is particular outrage about what is going on.
The two are Ibrahim Mahmoud Mahmad and Said Atbari. Atbari killed Tzilia Galili when he planted bombs in a market in Petah Tikva. Mahmad killed yeshiva student and soldier Yehoshua Saloma in Hevron. He then killed a second person — an Arab whom he suspected of being a collaborator for Israel — while in prison. He sounds like a particularly vile man.
This does not mean the rest of those slated for release are exactly nice guys. The group includes 26 convicted of attempted murder and 47 of shooting at people. Still others were convicted of planting bombs and kidnapping for the purpose of murder.
You can see that the issue of “blood on their hands” is in part a question of “luck” — whether they succeeded in killing anyone — and not lack of intent.
Meir Indor of the Almagor Terror Victims Association has told Arutz Sheva that his group will be filling a suit in the High Court to stop the releases.
“We do not expect to win, but we have been told by people high up in the system that if it were not for our protests and petitions to the Supreme Court, many more terrorists, guilty of very serious crimes, would have been freed…”
“We plan to take the law into our hands, in the positive sense of the phrase. We have had bitter experience with the 180 victims of terrorism who have been killed by terrorists freed in one exchange or another. We will gather information on every single convicted terrorist, find out which jail they are in and which luxuries they receive in prison, and we will be in contact with the families of those they have murdered, and we will thus keep this matter in the public awareness.”
More power to Indor and his Association!
Indor had especially hard words for Shas, which remains in this reprehensible government:
“…they make all sorts of protests, and vote against, but they remain in the government and refuse to bring it down, because they think that getting money for their Torah schools justifies all. I debated a Shas official on the radio; I told him that I had always learned that when it comes to pikuach nefesh, life-threatening situations, one must close his Talmud and take action.”
Let me add here that it’s not just money for schools Shas is after, but increases in child allowances. Arutz Sheva cited Shas MK Nissim Ze’ev:
“We must consider the matter [of pulling out] after the [summer] break. The budget is the central matter as far as we are concerned. And as for releasing terrorists, I understand it as if we must once in a while bribe the underworld; that is what the release of terrorists is – if we don’t want Abu Mazen to start a new intifada, then we must pay him off.”
With regard to prisoner trades, a senior defense official speaking anonymously to the Jerusalem Post had this to say:
“The government realized it could not do a southern hostage deal, so it went with the northern hostage deal to reduce public pressure on it. The government knew that they [Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser] were no longer alive. They figured that [child-killer Samir] Kuntar had been in prison for many years, and went for the deal.
“Hamas is demanding 450 heavyweight prisoners who took part in recent terrorist attacks. The memories of the victims’ families are still very raw. I don’t believe the government can go ahead with this.”
The cynical, self-serving machinations of the government are so apparent, that there is nothing for me to say…