Terror Victims’ Parents: Our Campaign Helped Avert Shalit Deal

Gil Ronen

As the Olmert government packs its bags, parents of terror victims are proud their campaign helped avert a deal to release murderous terrorists.

Israel National News


(Israel News Photo: Flash 90)

The families of terror victims and the Almagor Terror Victims Association noted with satisfaction on Sunday that their campaign against the proposed prisoner exchange deal for the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit has “made a difference,” now that Ehud Olmert’s government is headed out of office.

They said that the deal, which would have involved the release of hundreds of terrorists, including some especially heinous murderers, has apparently been scuttled for the time being.

The terror victims and Almagor faced a well-funded and professional campaign by the Shalit family and other proponents of the deal. The Campaign for the Release of Gilad Shalit set up a protest tent in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence with the aim of pressuring Ehud Olmert into signing a deal according to Hamas’s terms.

At first, the Shalit campaign received wall-to-wall support from the media. Entire front pages of the nation’s top dailies were taken up by gimmicks – like a fake letter written in Shalit’s handwriting, imploring the government to release him. Stickers, balloons, T-shirts, posters called for Shalit’s release. A musical project sponsored by a large website featured artists singing for Shalit, and Gilad’s portrait was painted on a huge storage tank at the Pi Gelilot facility overlooking Highway 2.

Deciding to Go to Jerusalem

“The pressure in the protest tent intensified as time went by. Ministers and MKs visited the tent and joined the pressure on the government to release terrorists,” said Ron Kehrman, whose daughter Tal was murdered in a terror attack on Bus #37 in Haifa. “Our fear that hundreds of murderers would be released and create the next terror wave prompted us to go to Jerusalem and voice ourselves there. In addition, we feared that our silence would be interpreted to mean that terror victims who paid a heavy price were in favor of the deal, and that we were surrendering to the blackmail of the terror organizations in Gaza. Finally, we were concerned that intense public pressure on the prime minister would cause him to sign a rash deal at the last minute”.

Kehrman added: “Before we set up our own protest tent, it seemed that most Israelis were resigned to the exchange of 1,450 terrorists for the release of Gilad Shalit. We went against this prevailing viewpoint and, indeed, after a few days the media presented new voices that demanded the rethinking of this solution. The media also called for finding other ways to release our soldier without surrendering to the terror organization’s extortionate demands.”

A Slow Start

The protest tent was established in front of the Prime Minister’s home, where Kehrman, together with Yossi Mendelevitch, Yossi Tzur and other bereaved parents appealed to the public to “Release Shalit, But Not At All Costs.”

“During the first few days, media coverage was low and the ‘Not At All Costs’ tent was mentioned only incidentally in the articles covering Shalit’s protest tent,” Kehrman recounted.

“Finally the critical week arrived, in which an Israeli decision had to be made on whether to capitulate to the terror organization’s blackmail. At the beginning of that week, we re-established the protest tent,” [it had been taken down temporarily — ed.].

“This time the response was greater. Bereaved parents, volunteers and supporters arrived from all corners of the country and gave interviews to the press. Some of the journalists themselves, including Yaron Dekel, Raviv Drucker, Harel Segal, Ben Dror Yemini, Avri Gilad and Beni Teitelboim, started publicly asking themselves, ‘What is actually going on here?’

“Other journalists started ‘coming out of the closet’ to express the rational opinion which we had been representing alone up until now. As time passed, the pressure on both sides intensified; then the Israeli negotiators returned from Cairo.

The Dramatic Day

“Finally the dramatic day arrived in which the prime minister stated that he and his ministers had reached a decision. After a one-day delay, it became publicized that the negotiations had failed and were brought to a halt. For the first time, after years of pressure on our side, the prime minister finally dared to stand up and say that Israel also has red lines which cannot, should not be crossed. Our message has finally been heard.

“For the first time, there were discussions over the possibility of worsening the conditions of Hamas prisoners who are sitting in Israeli jails as means of pressure to release Gilad Shalit. Even Minister of Justice Friedman approved this step. Our appeals to use pressure tactics in order to alter the power balance has finally permeated the Israeli consensus. Surveys now show that the majority of the nation supports this move.”

Kehrman and the other activists announced that they are taking down the protest tent, but said they are not taking down their guard: “There are reports about the possibility of renewing the negotiations and the possibility of Ofer Dekel meeting with Hamas prisoners, in order to convince them to pressure their leadership into accepting the deal which includes Israel’s earlier terms.”

“We are alert and ready to renew our public struggle so that those who were sentenced to life imprisonment will serve their time in jail, and the prime minister and security forces will find another way to obtain the release of Gilad Shalit.“

Car-Bomb Could Have Collapsed the Mall

Hillel Fendel

Car-Bomb Could Have Collapsed the Mall

The Haifa terrorist car bomb that didn’t go off Saturday night could have collapsed the entire 3-story shopping mall above it.

Israel National News


The car bomb that did not go off on Saturday night in a Haifa parking lot could have collapsed the entire three-story shopping mall above it.

The car was parked in the Cinemall parking lot, and apparently contained enough explosives – 40 kilograms – to bring down the entire mall. The detonation mechanism malfunctioned, however, and caused only a very small initial explosion – enough to attract the attention of passersby, who called the police. The area was then cleared, and police sappers neutralized the remaining explosives packed in bags in the car.

The three-story mall, widely known by its former name Lev HaMifratz (Heart of the Gulf), contains 23 movie theaters and over 100 stores, and was crowded with shoppers and others when the bomb was discovered.

Olmert: A Terrorist Attack

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday that a “heavy catastrophe was averted in Haifa last night.” Olmert, still in office after his future successor, Binyamin Netanyahu, requested and received last week an extension for his coalition-forming efforts, said, “From our standpoint, this was a terror attack in the full sense of the word, and the State of Israel relates to it with all seriousness. Initial investigations show that the terrorists are apparently based in Judea and Samaria.”

“A miracle happened,” Olmert stated forcefully, “and the bomb did not go off because of the alertness of the civilians. I have great admiration for [all our] security forces; thank G-d, sometimes attacks like these are prevented because of the extraordinary alertness of civilians.”

‘Restore the Checkpoints!’

In light of his statement, the Almagor Terror Victims Association called on Olmert to restore the anti-terrorism checkpoints that the government has removed in recent weeks and days from various locations throughout Judea and Samaria.

“If Israel relates to this as a genuine terror attack,” the Almagor statement says, “as the Prime Minister states, he must immediately restore all the checkpoints. He must also impose a closure on the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria, as is always done after a terrorist attack.”

Well-Planned Attack

Police say the origins and identities of the terrorists are still under investigation. It is assumed, however, that the attack was well-planned by an organized terrorist infrastructure.

The mall in Haifa was re-opened to the public on Sunday morning, after police sappers concluded a check of the area and security checks were intensified. Fewer shoppers than usual arrived, however.

The near-catastrophe occurred just six days after two Israeli policemen were murdered by Arab terrorists in the Jordan Valley. The victims were entrapped by their desire to help a man who appeared to be a motorist who needed help in changing a flat tire – but was actually a murderous terrorist who gunned them down in cold blood.

False Alarm in Galilee

At 12:45 PM on Sunday, a rocket warning siren sounded in Kiryat Shmonah and area towns in the Galilee. No signs of a rocket landing were found, and it appears that the siren was a false alarm, as happened in a similar alert a week ago.

Almagor: Return Checkpoints to Judea and Samaria

Almagor: Return Checkpoints to Judea and Samaria

Israel National News


The Almagor Terror Victim Association responded to the attempted terror attack in a Haifa mall on Saturday night by calling on the government to return to Judea and Samaria checkpoints it left just two weeks ago. In the attack last night, an alert citizen noticed a car bomb near a busy Haifa mall and police defused the threat.

Almagor pointed out that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in this morning’s cabinet meeting that the government would treat the attack seriously and that the security services estimated the attack originated from Judea and Samaria. Also last week, terrorists shot and killed two police in the Jordan valley. Police claimed that opening the checkpoints had nothing to do with that attack.

Gov’t Considers Chopping Down on Terrorists’ Rights

Hillel Fendel

Gov’t Considers Chopping Down on Terrorists’ Rights

Justice Minister will head ministerial committee to consider downgrading jail conditions of Arab terrorists to those of Gilad Shalit in captivity.

Israel National News


(Flash 90)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has appointed a ministerial committee to see if it possible to downgrade the prison condition of Arab terrorists to those of Gilad Shalit in captivity. Terror victim expert Meir Indor says Arab terrorists’ conditions in Israeli prison are better than those of criminal convicts.”

The new committee is to be headed by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, and will convene today (Wednesday) for the first time to hear judicial opinions on the matter. A new government is expected to take office in the coming days, and it is not clear whether the committee will have time to formulate recommendations, and if so, whether the new government will adopt them.

Issues that will be considered include rights to receive visitors, phone calls and study courses, none of which Shalit has received in his 33 months in Hamas captivity.

The decision to consider downgrading the terrorists’ conditions was made in light of the failure to conclude a deal for the release of Shalit in exchange for up to 1,400 imprisoned Palestinian terrorists. Hamas demands 450 terrorists in the first stage, most of whom have murdered Jews, and another 950 more junior terrorists in subsequent stages. Hamas also has refused Israel’s condition that many of the terrorists from Judea and Samaria be expelled to Gaza or elsewhere.

Friedmann: Much Room to Downgrade

Minister Friedmann says he is of the opinion that the conditions under which the Arab security prisoners are being held “are way above the minimum. We can reduce the number of visitors they are allowed, control over visitors, phone calls, and monies they receive.”

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, a member of the committee, long ago informed the government of his opinion that depriving the terrorists of certain rights is illegal. The government accepted his opinion at the time, but the formation of the committee appears to be a sign that it is reconsidering.

A List of Terrorist Privileges

Meir Indor, of the Almagor Terror Victims Association, told Israel National News the extent of the privileges the imprisoned terrorists receive: “First of all, they are organized into committees, with commanders, as if they were prisoners of war. This means that the Prison Service deals with them only via their commanders and representatives. In addition, even though they are considered war criminals, they receive visits from the International Red Cross. They also receive many visits from lawyers, who often serve as couriers to bring messages back and forth. They receive many family visitors, even though the Red Cross does not require this, as well as phone calls, with some supervision. They are given the opportunity to study for high school matriculation, and also a university degree. In addition, I have heard that the Palestinian Authority deposits 1,200 shekels in their canteen accounts every month.”

“In short,” Indor concluded, “the conditions of an Arab terrorist in Israeli prison is better than those of a criminal convict in the same jail – and certainly many times better than the dungeon conditions to which Gilad Shalit is apparently treated.”

Friedmann: Israel Need Not Cede Every Point to Hamas

Minister Friedmann shared with Ynet his opinion that Israel must take a tougher stance in its negotiations with Hamas over Gilad Shalit: “The Prime Minister went further than… what some of us think [should be done] regarding Shalit. There is an opinion that whatever demands Hamas makes must be accepted right away. This is incorrect and irresponsible. It has a high price regarding future kidnappings; the more we give in, the more kidnappings there will be. In addition, it has strategic ramifications, in that every far-reaching concession we make strengthens the radical elements and weakens those who are more moderate … What will do if they say they want Sderot in exchange for Shalit!? They are cruel and inflexible, but we must still remember that they can be negotiated with.”

Ben-Eliezer: Any Price

It will be recalled that Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) said not long ago, “We must be willing to pay any price – any price – for the return of Gilad Shalit.” He was criticized at the time by National Union MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh), who served under Ben-Eliezer in the army: “Can he possibly mean that we should pay ‘any’ price? I was a soldier under Fuad’s command, and this is not the tough Fuad and responsible leader I knew. Should we give into everything they demand? Do we need to release 1,000 murderers and cause more bereaved families? A government must behave responsibly towards the entire country.”