Abbas’ Hit Parade

Nadav Shragai

Abbas’ Hit Parade

Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas has drawn up a list of 120 terrorists he wants Israel to release as a precondition for restarting talks • The U.S. has urged Israel to consider the request • But should Israel release a rogues’ gallery of murderers in exchange for sitting at the negotiating table?

Israel Hayom


PA head Mahmoud Abbas wants Palestinians convicted of murder released from jail; the U.S. wants Israel to consider doing so. (Photo credit: AFP)

On Friday, Dec. 31, 1993, the 17th day of the Hebrew month of Tevet, David Bublil and Haim Weizmann were stabbed to death in their sleep in an apartment in Ramle.

One of the murderers was Fatah operative Ala Abu Sata. Together with his fellow attacker, he mutilated the bodies of his victims, even cutting off their ears as proof of his act. Two days later Abu Sata was captured, tried and sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment.

Issa Moussa, a Hamas operative, has also been serving three life terms in Israeli prison since 1993. Moussa was involved in the kidnapping and murder of police officer Nissim Toledano, which had the country in an uproar 21 years ago. He was also involved in the murder of two other police officers, Daniel Hazut and Mordechai Yisrael, on Land Day (March 1993) at Talmei Elazar junction near Wadi Ara.

The potential release of Abu Sata and Issa Moussa came up in discussions of the prisoner-exchange deal that resulted in the release of Gilad Shalit. After a tough argument, they were left in prison. Now Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has made the resumption of the peace talks with Israel conditional on their release and on the release of roughly 120 of their comrades, most of them “heavy-duty” murderers, most of them older men. Most of them committed their crimes before the Oslo Accords were signed, or at around that time.

Many months ago, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received the “list of the 120,” as Abbas’ list is called, his hair stood on end. It was one thing, and a very hard thing at that, to release 1,027 terrorists, hundreds of them hard-core murderers with blood on their hands, in exchange for a single live soldier, Gilad Shalit, who had been held captive by Hamas for years. It’s another thing entirely to release a similar rogues’ gallery of murderers “in exchange for resuming the talks.”

But when the U.S. “asks”—or, as some claim, applies pressure—Israel must look into the matter, at least formally. This week, the list reached the desk of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is in charge of the talks with the Palestinians. Although Livni describes them as “despicable terrorists who did terrible things,” she is still looking into their cases. The defense establishment is also checking the list. President Shimon Peres, who was asked about the matter in an interview on the evening of the last Independence Day, has already said that Abbas’ request “should be considered in a positive light.”

In the summation meeting of the World Economic Forum in Jordan this week, Abbas himself, in what was part speech and part threat, made public mention of the matter and asked, theoretically, of course: “Why are our prisoners not released? We are told, ‘Why should we release prisoners for nothing?’ You released more than 1,000 soldiers for Gilad Shalit. Do you want us to kidnap soldiers? That’s not our culture. In 2012 several hundred soldiers mistakenly entered Palestinian villages and cities. They were returned to their families within 10 minutes. We didn’t kidnap a single one. We reject the use of such an act.”

‘They Will Kill Again’

This saga, which Abbas is concocting in cooperation with the American and European foreign ministers, is not going unnoticed by the victims’ families. The news that the Palestinian Authority is now demanding the release of the men who murdered their loved ones has been giving them sleepless nights. Geula Delarosa is the mother of soldier David Delarosa, who in 1988 tried to save Rahel Weiss and her three children from a bus that had been firebombed near Jericho. She remembers how David, whose air passages had been severely injured from the fire, fought for his life until he succumbed.

She would have been willing to release the men who murdered her son and Rahel Weiss and her children in exchange for Shalit, but the possibility that they might be released “in exchange” or “as a goodwill gesture” for the resumption of the talks upsets her terribly.

“Have we lost our sanity?” she asks. “We see again and again that terrorists who were released in the Shalit deal talk about resuming terrorism and also return to it. I hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu will show wisdom and reject the pressure.”

Dalia Bublil, the sister of David Bublil, who was murdered in the apartment in Ramle, is also firmly opposed to the release of her brother’s murderers.

“It hurts so much, to this very day. How would ministers in the government feel if, God forbid, the murderers of their siblings were to be released in exchange for resuming talks?” she asks, bewildered.

Elinor Abutbul was 10 years old when her father, police officer Mordechai Yisrael, 35, was murdered. She grew up with pain and loss. She is now 30 and a mother of two.

“The people who murdered my father destroyed an entire family,” she says. “A man went to work in the morning and never came back. These are terrorists with blood on their hands, and I’m absolutely certain that their release will lead to more terrorism, more bloodshed and more victims. The decision-makers must learn from experience and avoid making this terrible mistake.”

Elinor’s grandmother and David’s mother, Allegra Yisrael of Haifa, says that the release of her son’s murderers will pour more salt into her wounds.

“He was murdered while [then Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin was still alive, and Moshe Shahal, who was then the minister of the police, came to visit us and express his condolences. Anyone who lets them go free could sentence more victims to death, God forbid. Why haven’t they learned from past experience?”

Allegra continues, “The pain doesn’t go away as the years go by. It only gets stronger. I lost another son to a severe illness, my Michael, who was also a police officer. My husband died two years ago. Before it happened, we bought two cemetery plots close to the section where Mordechai is buried, so we’ll at least be laid to rest near him.”

Police officer Daniel Hazut, 34, was murdered together with Mordechai. Hazut’s daughter, Sapir, who was 18 months old at the time, knows her father only from photographs.

“The terrorists, who were disguised as IDF soldiers, shot them at point-blank range. If they had been freed in exchange for Shalit, I’d be in favor it. To save a soldier, that’s sacred. But for no good reason? And what about the terrorism that will happen once they’re free?”

Her mother, Rivka Sabag (Hazut), Daniel’s widow, also opposes releasing the murderers. She, too, would have been willing to pay a similar price for a kidnapped soldier “but not like this,” she says. “After all, it’s so likely that they’ll kill again.”

‘A Moral Sin’

Israel released 1,027 prisoners in exchange for a single soldier. Of that number, 303 were serving life sentences and 148 had been sentenced to several life terms. Twenty of them had been sentenced to more than 10 life terms, and 330 had been prosecuted for the murders of Israelis. Some 427 of the prisoners were responsible for terror attacks in which 569 Israelis were killed (according to an essay by Yoram Schweitzer, director of the Terrorism and Low-Intensity Warfare Research Project at the Institute for National Security Studies).

This time, too, the number of terrorists with blood on their hands is very high. The Almagor Terror Victims Association, which has revealed the complete “list of 120″ to Israel Hayom for the first time, issues warnings together with countless examples of terrorists “with blood on their hands” who returned to terrorist activity—murder and wounding, or inciting or planning terror attacks.

They include older people. Meir Indor, one of the heads of Almagor, says, “If there should be another wave of released terrorists, the state will have sinned twice. The first is the moral sin of releasing murderers before the proper time and making a joke out of the legal system, the law and law enforcement in the State of Israel. Second, they’re committing a moral sin by releasing terrorists knowing that previous releases have already led to waves of terrorism and the murder of hundreds of people.” He adds, “Some of the people who were released in the Shalit deal have gone back to terrorism and made statements supporting terrorism.”

Political sources in Jerusalem say that Netanyahu would have a very hard time releasing terrorists on the list of the 120, except perhaps for a very few. This was also made clear to the U.S., which was very active in the matter because of its belief that this would contribute to the resumptions of the talks with the Palestinians. A close look at the list of terrorists and the atrocious acts of murder they committed shows how hard it is.

The “stars” of the list include the murderers of Professor Gavriel Stern in the Valley of the Cross in July 1992; the man who stabbed Genia Friedman to death as she was walking on a street in Kfar Saba; the men who kidnapped and murdered the soldier Akiva Shaltiel on the eve of Passover in 1985; and the murderers of Israeli soldiers Yaakov Dubinsky, Yair Pereira and Guy Friedman.

In the last case, the murderers were Israeli Arabs, members of the Islamic Movement from the Wadi Ara area who were recruited by Islamic Jihad. On Feb. 14, 1992, the murderers broke into the soldiers’ tent encampment near Kibbutz Galed and murdered the three soldiers, who were new immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The murder weapons were knives, axes and a pitchfork. The incident later became known as “the night of the pitchforks.”

Also on the list of the 120 whose release Abbas is demanding as a precondition for resuming talks is the terrorist from Fatah who helped plant the bomb in the Mahane Yehuda market in 1991 that killed eight people; Arshid Hamid Youssef, who was given five life sentences for murdering five people suspected of collaborating with Israel; Osman Bani Hassan, who murdered Yosef Eliahu and Leah Elmakais, two Israeli day-trippers, in a forest on Mount Gilboa in 1985 and was sentenced to two life terms; two Arab construction workers who murdered Zalman Schlein at a construction site where he was building his home in 1989; the men who kidnapped and murdered the soldier Moshe Tamam in 1986; the terrorist who took part in the murder of Simha Levy of Gush Katif in 1989; and Youssef Shamasneh who murdered Ronen Karmani, 18, and his close friend Lior Tubul, 17, on the night of Aug. 4, 1990, while they were on their way to visit their girlfriends in Pisgat Ze’ev. Three men riding in a van with Arab license plates forced Karmani and Tubul into the van at gunpoint. The men took the two friends to a wadi in Beit Hanina where they stabbed them to death. Their bound bodies were found two days later in the wadi between the Ramot neighborhood and Beit Hanina. A wave of anti-Arab riots broke out in Jerusalem after the murders, during which a Palestinian woman was stoned to death.

The Goal: Kidnapping

Meanwhile, as Abbas concentrates on the demand to release the 120 terrorists, the groups that do not bow to his authority do not stop at words or veiled threats. They are constantly planning to kidnap soldiers and civilians. In 2011, 11 attempts to kidnap soldiers were reported. In 2012, there were 26 attempts to kidnap soldiers and an unknown number of attempts to kidnap civilians that, miraculously, were unsuccessful. More events of this type took place in 2013. According to the latest official report, 18 kidnapping attempts took place from November 2012 to last March.

Only several days ago, the Shin Bet uncovered a military group belonging to Islamic Jihad. Its members, men in their 20s from Hebron, planned to kidnap a soldier near Hebron to use as a bargaining chip for the release of Palestinian prisoners. Two members of the cell, Hazem Tawil and Abdullah Abido, have been convicted in past years of security-related offenses as members of Islamic Jihad, and served sentences in Israeli jails.

The members of the cell planned to drive among various bus stations where Israeli soldiers or civilians wait for transportation, shoot at them from their car and kidnap and hide a body, then bargain in exchange for its release. The military court in Judea has handed down 13 indictments against them.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon opposes releasing the terrorists at Abbas’ behest, and Netanyahu knows his position. During the dramatic cabinet meeting in October 2011 in which the Shalit deal was approved, Ya’alon, who was not yet defense minister, opposed the deal. Now, as defense minister, his position carries much more weight.

One topic on the government’s agenda is the Shamgar Committee report on kidnappings. The report has not yet been discussed. Former Defense Minister Ehud Barak appointed the committee after the deal in which the bodies of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were returned to Israel. After Shalit’s release, the committee submitted the second part of its report to the government. Among the topics it dealt with were the questions: Should negotiations for captives be held, and under what circumstances? What are the permissible boundaries? Who makes the decisions? The committee also recommended dispensing with special envoys, whose services have been used so far, and putting the topic under the purview of the defense minister, with the prime minister and the cabinet involved in decision-making as needed.

The way that Abbas’ demands are being dealt with is not the way a kidnapping incident is handled. But there are similarities between the two, since this is also a kind of ultimatum, or blackmail if you will. The classified Shamgar Committee report may well contain recommendations about a situation of this kind, which the government must now deal with.

Almagor: Livni Planning ‘Back-Door’ Terrorist Release

David Lev

Almagor: Livni Planning ‘Back-Door’ Terrorist Release

The Almagor anti-terror organization fears that Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is preparing for another mass release of Arab terrorists

Israel National News


Security prisoners (Flash 90)

The Almagor anti-terror organization expressed concerns Wednesday that Israel could be preparing for another mass release of Arab terrorists from Israeli prisons, among them terrorists who directly participated or plotted murders of Israelis. The organization said that it had obtained information that in recent weeks, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has ordered staff to examine the cases of over a hundred of these terrorists, with the suspicion being that she is seeking loopholes in the law that would enable their release.

Most of the terrorists have been in Israeli prisons for years or even decades, with many of the terrorist acts undertaken before the signing of the Oslo Accords.

Almagor chairman Meir Indor told Arutz Sheva that he had requested an urgent meeting with Livni in order to discuss the matter. Indor said that the Palestinian Authority had launched a massive campaign aimed at pressuring Israel to release “long-term prisoner” terrorists, who are in prison for terrorist acts that occurred over two decades ago. The release of the terrorists, along with a full building freeze in all of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, are the two preconditions the PA has given Israel for a return to negotiations.

Indor said that his organization had obtained a list of 120 such terrorists. “All of them are murderers,” Indor said. “And they are all in good health. We are not talking about old men or sick men.” Indor added that the terrorists in question had participated in terror attacks that had cost Israelis their lives, not just “attempted” attacks. These are terrorists that Yitzchak Rabin, who signed the Oslo Accords along with chief PA terrorist Yasser Arafat, himself refused to release in the mass exodus of terrorists from Israeli prisons after the signing of Oslo.

Indor said that Livni has portrayed the requests for release by the PA as “very problematic,” but he fears that this is just a public statement designed to hide the attempt by Livni to seek legal ways to release the terrorists. Indor also said that it appeared that if Livni did decide to release the terrorists, President Shimon Peres would not stand in her way, as he said in a recent speech that he, too, was in favor of the release of “prisoners.”

Almagor is attempting to organize an opposition bloc of the families of victims of the terrorists to pressure Livni against signing release papers for the terrorists.

Is Livni Preparing to Release More Murderers?

Is Livni Preparing to Release More Murderers?

The Jewish Press


The Almagor Terror Victims Association and a group of bereaved families have requested an urgent meeting with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. The request follows reports that Livni solicited the legal files of the terrorists who have been in Israeli jails since before the Oslo Accord, whom the PA is demanding be freed as a precondition for or part of political talks.

Almagor is concerned that this is a preparatory move for releasing a group of murderers whom Yitzhak Rabin refused to free as part of the Oslo Accord because they had blood on their hands.

Most of the individuals on the list, which Almagor has acquired, are murderers; some are accessories to murder; and a few “only” committed other violent crimes for which they were sentenced to multiple decades in prison. Most of the terrorists received at least one life sentence.

Almagor head Lt.-Col. (ret.) Meir Indor said: “If Rabin was ready to blow up the agreement over this point, then the justice minister, whose job is to maintain law and order, shouldn’t be seeking a deal to free these convicted murders. The price of such a deal would be damage to the legal system and to justice, as well as a security threat from the released terrorists.”

Indor further says: “Since the Schalit Deal there has been a dramatic rise in the number of terrorists throwing rocks and incendiary bombs, as well as dozens of abduction attempts.”

The terror victims also requested a meeting with President Shimon Peres, who has called for fulfilling the Palestinian demand to release terrorists in personal political remarks as well as in a Channel 1 interview.

“As a president who wants to hear and take into consideration what the whole nation wants, we would like to express to you our moral opposition to this move and the severe hurt it would cause the bereaved families, as well as our concern for Israeli security following their release.”

Israel’s Achilles’ Heel

Justus Reid Weiner; Zack Pyzer

Justus Reid Weiner is an international human rights lawyer and an adjunct lecturer at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Zack Pyzer co-authored and researched this article, he previously read Neuroscience at the University of Manchester.

Israel’s Achilles’ Heel

Israel has adapted to cope with the various security threats it has faced, putting the safety of its army and citizens first no matter the cost.

The Jerusalem Post



Photo by: Reuters/Handout

Throughout its history Israel has adapted to deal with the various security threats it has faced, putting the safety of its army and citizens first no matter the cost; economic or political. Israel’s solemn commitment to the well-being of its countrymen is vulnerable to exploitation by her enemies; emotional blackmail is Israel’s Achilles heel.

The abduction of Gilad Schalit in 2006 resulted in public and political turmoil spanning 5 years and 2 Governments. Many politicians and members of the public passionately supported giving in to the demands of Hamas to win the soldier’s freedom; others solemnly disagreed. In the end, the hesitancy of Israel’s position did neither its negotiating position nor Sergeant Schalit any good. Equivocation itself would have been averted if Israel had been able to implement a considered, sensible policy for such a situation. That no such plan existed left the country fighting a battle between its head and its heart; public pressure forced through the eventual outcome. All Hamas had to do in the meantime was watch, knowing that Israel’s inaction over its ethical dilemma would eventually deliver a high price for their prisoner.

Since Schalit’s release in 2011, public and political debate has stagnated and it remains that Israel has no publicly stated governmental policy as a means to deter, and if need be deal with future kidnappings. Israel certainly has pressing issues at home and abroad: Iran, the cost of living and the peace process foremost amongst them. This article, however, illustrates that the current situation in the region necessitates more than ever the need for a policy on kidnap and prisoner exchanges in general, before providing recommendations for a strategy in particular.

Although a third intifada is spoken about in a hypothetical sense, rather than the present tense, it is hardly quiet in the territories. Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence service, reported that terrorist attacks in east Jerusalem and the West Bank were 70 percent higher in February than January; during March there was another, albeit minor, increase of attacks in the West Bank. Even so, in context these figures do not represent an intifada – they lack the sheer volume of the first or the bloody horror of the second. However there have been repeated calls, not least from Hamas, for this upturn in violence to mutate into a fully blown third, ‘Prisoner’s’, intifada. Rare is the war which has a nickname before it begins, however the ‘unjust suffering’ of Palestinian prisoners is a major factor behind increased levels of violence and tension in the area.

In truth, Israel upholds prisoner’s rights well beyond the minimum demanded by international law. Access to food, medical care, entertainment and family visits alongside the payment of wages by the Palestinian Authority are all exorbitant luxuries by comparison to standards in a Palestinian or Arab jail, especially for an Israeli.

Another source of grievance is the severity of the punishment for ‘minor’ crimes, such as stone throwing. That 3 year-old Adele Biton is fighting for her life as a result of a stone throwing in March shows how minor is a distortion of the reality. In addition, Evyatar Borowsky, Israel’s latest victim of terrorism, was killed by Salam As’ad Zaghal, a man who until recently was in prison for throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. Stone throwers are by and large not mischievous youths making a mistake, they attack with the express aim to injure and kill. As with this murderer, the progression from committing ‘minor’ to ‘serious’ crimes can be quick; it is Israel’s right and duty to deter violent crime no matter the manifestation.

Prisoners have recently found their way into international headlines due to ‘hunger strikes’. These popular protests, as with many aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, are misunderstood. Often the prisoners accept liquids, end their strike after a day, or just simply eat food from their private supplies which they are allowed to buy with their monthly financial stipend and store in their cells. There have also been two high profile cases of prisoners dying in jail this year, with blame immediately and incorrectly placed on Israel. Maisara Abu Hamdiyeh, in prison for planning an attempted suicide bombing amongst other crimes, died of esophageal cancer in an Israeli hospital to wrongful claims of Israeli mistreatment. The other case was that of Arafat Jaradat, whose death became a symbol of the Palestinian prisoner’s ‘plight’ when the PA accused Shin Bet of torturing him to death. His funeral was hijacked by terrorist groups calling for retaliation against Israel.

Some estimates put the number of Palestinians who have spent time in Israeli jails since 1967 at roughly 800,000, and there are roughly 4,700 prisoners currently in jail. Shared experiences help to explain why releasing prisoners has become such a national issue. Former inmates empathize with those in prison today and relatives of former inmates sympathize with those who have a family member currently in custody. It is clear that any organization that supports or secures the release of prisoners is rewarded with wide approval in the eyes of the Palestinian public. Both the PA and Hamas want to cash in on this potential popularity. PA President Mahmoud Abbas was no doubt responding to domestic pressure when he recently repeated his promise to free all prisoners, irrespective of their crimes.

The PA and Hamas have different methods to achieve the same goal. The PA can invoke international pressure on Israel and offer to begin peace process negotiations as a means to release prisoners through gestures and sweeteners. Hamas, on the other hand, have kidnap, which has proven to be very successful in securing the release of large numbers of prisoners at the same time as bolstering their reputation as an effective resistance organization. It is no surprise that Hamas has been responsible for most of the 18 kidnap attempts which occurred from November 2012 until February 2013 as they search for the new Gilad Schalit. It is also no surprise that recently two Hamas terror cell have been discovered in the West Bank to be conspiring to kidnap IDF soldiers. Hamas are branching out, both to expand their front against Israel and to undermine the PA in an attempt to unite the Palestinian people under their flag. Indeed a senior IDF officer commented that: “Hamas received a powerful tailwind (from the Schalit deal). We’re seeing Hamas raise its head after years … They’re no longer afraid.”

It is therefore evident that there is a pressing need for Israel to design a considered course of action when it comes to kidnap and prisoner exchanges. In the opinion of the authors, the guiding principles behind any future policy should be to first look at the bigger picture, two key elements of which are summarized below:

  1. The release of terrorists with violent intent compromises the Israeli government’s duty to the safety of far larger numbers of its citizenry. Governmental policy should never place the fate of one individual above that of the wider population. The unforgiving truth is that Israel cannot guarantee the safety of its citizens against released terrorists. Since the year 2000 over 180 people have died as a result of terrorist attacks planned or perpetrated by those released in prisoner exchanges or in gestures to the PA. The Schalit deal saw Israel hand over 1027 prisoners responsible for 569 civilian deaths and according to research by Almagor, the terror victims association, many have since returned to terrorist activity or otherwise breached the terms of their release. This was the case after the infamous Jibril exchange; the released formed the “backbone of the Arab rioting that occurred in Judea, Gaza, and Samaria during the late 1980s.” An estimate by then Israeli attorney-general Elyakim Rubinstein put the recidivist rate for Palestinian prisoners in general at 80 percent. The threat they pose to Israel should not be underestimated.

  2. Submitting to unbalanced exchanges demanded by Hamas and other terrorist groups depletes deterrence whilst strengthening extremists in the Palestinian camp. In the longer term, two tools for promoting peace throughout the region are the deterrence of violence in general and the political marginalization of extremists in particular. Effective deterrence is built upon the prevention of attacks and strict penalties when perpetrators are caught. Israel’s deterrence is damaged by releasing prisoners prematurely, especially so when the terrorists in question express no remorse and publicly state their intention to attack again. As for marginalizing extremists, another consideration to take into account is the power struggle between the PA and Hamas. Hamas enjoyed a substantial boost in popularity when the Schalit exchange occurred; a wave of prisoner exchanges resulting in the release of many or all of Israel’s most dangerous prisoners would have a profound effect. In a worst case scenario it would embolden Hamas to attempt to wrest control of the West Bank from an intransigent looking PA. It is important to remember that it was not the election victory in 2006 that cemented Hamas’s grip on Gaza, but the subsequent crushing of all moderate opposition in the territory on the crest of their wave of popularity. A popular coup in the West Bank would spell disaster for the whole region, Israel’s current strategy concerning prisoner exchanges, or lack thereof, plays directly into their hands.

Israel has never expressed a concrete policy when it comes to exchanging prisoners with terrorist groups, simply a number of red lines that are redrawn every time the circumstances change. Inconsistency has led to a wide range in exchange ratios and the types of prisoners that end up being freed. Certain exchanges – the Jibril, Tannenbaum and Schalit affairs in particular – resulted in the release of hundreds or thousands of terrorists, many of whom would go on to inflict more bloodshed. Other exchanges have been successfully agreed upon on a one for one basis, or thereabouts.

Refusing point blank to negotiate with terrorists would be wholly unacceptable in the eyes of the majority of the Israeli public as it would most likely result in the death of hostages. Capitulating to extreme demands is also not a viable option going forward, as has been outlined. In fact Israel has few realistic alternatives, or additions, to a policy of formulating and implementing a tough negotiating position, however a unilateral approach with regards to negotiations is not enough of a deterrent effect. Risk-averse strategies need both diversification and contingencies; currently Israel has demonstrated none of its characteristic ingenuity in its strategy to combat the threat of kidnap.

One possible method to diversify its approach to deterrence would be to begin enacting the death penalty for aggrieved acts of terrorism, which is legal under International Law in cases where the terrorist in question has killed one or more people. Executing these terrorists would contribute to reducing what is referred to as the ‘jailbait’ effect, where the hero-like status of some prisoners encourages attempts to win their freedom. For example in 2006 Hezbollah abducted IDF soldiers in an attempt to negotiate the release of the abhorrent Samir Kuntar; his four murder victims included a child whose head he smashed on a rock. Hezbollah succeeded in freeing this high profile monster in the aftermath of the ensuing Second Lebanon War in exchange for the bodies of two of the kidnapped IDF soldiers. Kuntar remains unrepentant, encourages others to follow his lead, and received honors from the Lebanese, Syrian and Iranian political hierarchies. A major boost to Hezbollah’s standing in the Arab world; the whole affair has had major repercussions for Israel.

An unconventional angle on the idea of sentencing terrorists to death is one in which Israel could avoid actually killing any prisoners. In this scenario there would be an understanding that if any Israelis are abducted then it would result in the execution of terrorists that had until then been serving out a jail sentence instead. In this way Israel could combat the jailbait effect at the same time as deterring potential terrorist attacks. It must be noted that the authors are in no way encouraging the use of the death penalty per se, and are merely illustrating the scope for lateral thought in terms of a future deterrence and response to kidnap and blackmail.

In conclusion, a multi-dimensional approach to the broad issues surrounding prisoners, kidnap, release gestures and exchanges should be given room for public and political debate. Unfortunately the Israeli Government is helping to stifle the discussion by blocking the release of the Shamgar Committee’s findings on prisoner exchanges. The Committee is headed by the respected former Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar, and according to information received by Almagor the Report recommends that future exchanges be conducted on a one for one ratio. This is a position that the authors strongly agree with.

These conclusions should be put squarely in the public domain and become part of the general national discourse within Israel, the solution to Israel’s problem in this area is not found in avoidance. Instead it requires a strong, effective policy of deterrence and a tough negotiating stance to act as armor plating over her Achilles heel.

A Prize for Murder

Meir Indor

Lt.-Col. (ret.) Meir Indor is CEO of Almagor Terror Victims Association. In his extended career of public service, he has worked as a journalist, founded the Libi Fund, Sar-El, Habaita, among many other initiatives, and continues to lend his support to other pressing causes of the day.

A Prize for Murder

Embarrassingly, the terrorist was permitted to go free.

The Jewish Press


Jamal Tirawi

Imagine that a man has kidnapped a girl at gunpoint. He is promised that if he frees her, he will be absolved of all guilt and permitted to go back home. Do you really think that such a person would be let off the hook just because of that promise?

Jamal Tirawi is a senior Fatah and Tanzim operative from Shechem (Nablus). He is the one who dispatched suicide terrorist Muhanan Ibrahim Salahat to My Coffee Shop in Tel Aviv in the spring of 2002. The attack resulted in the murder of Rachel Cherki and the wounding of another thirty victims. Yet the Military Court of Appeals at Camp Ofer decided this week to free Tirawi and annul the sentence of thirty years’ imprisonment he had received. The explanation given: Israel once indicated that it was removing hundreds of terrorists from its list of wanted criminals on the condition that they not engage in terrorist activities, and Israel is required to fulfill this promise. There is nothing of greater importance, reasoned the judges, than that the state fulfill its promises.

With this, the court adopted the position of Avigdor Feldman, the attorney who had defended the murderer. Feldman made no bones about the crimes committed by his client—he simply found a way around them. Meanwhile, the IDF Advocate General, representatives of the ISA, and the first panel of judges to hear the case asserted that the terrorist had returned to terrorism, thus violating the condition on which he had been removed from the list in the first place.

Embarrassingly, the terrorist was permitted to go free.

The victims of his crime were not even notified of his appeal. The very night after he was exonerated, the authorities brought Tirawi to the Balata neighborhood of Shechem and released him. He received an adoring welcome from thousands of young people, some carrying weapons. The message was clear: someone who murders Jews will regain his freedom sooner or later.

Where was IDF Central Command head General Nitzan Alon when all this happened? Part of his job is to approve rulings by the military courts under his command. Why didn’t he, or else the chief of staff, suspend the ruling so that the terrorists’ victims could file their own appeal and petition the Supreme Court to annul the ruling?

According to the legal advice obtained by Almagor from retired judges, including judges who worked in military law, the appeals court’s ruling was nothing short of scandalous. Aside from the fact that the court simply ignored the terrorist’s return to terrorism, the judges were interfering in an inherently political matter. A state has the right to announce a political or military course of action with regard to another country or entity, and then change course. This is outside of a court’s ambit. The Supreme Court has said precisely this in dozens of cases filed by Almagor and others against the release of terrorists. What is more, the Israeli policy was never issued publicly or officially, and it was part of an understanding reached with the PA, not the wanted criminals themselves.

Nevertheless, for the time being, the terrorist is home and the family of the woman he murdered is again in mourning.

Asleep at the Wheel

This week, on 9 May, Rabbi Moshe Levinger received the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism.

In 1967, Rabbi Levinger took responsibility. He led the public to settle Hevron, and from there proceeded to the remainder of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). It was not the state that did this. The settlement enterprise grew from the grassroots: it was the public that pushed and recruited the political echelon and the state.

The war on terrorism equally must not be left to military men and politicians.

Here are a few examples of successful campaigns against terrorism. Granted, whatever success is attained is scant comfort for the bereaved families, but as far as the murderers’ potential next victims are concerned, the difference is between life and death. The same goes for the many soldiers who endangered their lives to arrest and imprison the terrorists, and were spared from doing so again.

Michael Palmer, whose son Asher was murdered with his own son in a rock-throwing attack near Halhul, came from America to be present at the trial of those who had murdered his loved ones. He retained a lawyer and, along with a group of friends, attends every session held by the court. The judge, a man who had decided in the past that those who throw rocks do not necessarily do so out of intent to murder, determined this time that rocks are lethal weapons. So far the head murderer, Wa’al al-Arja, has received a life sentence.

Had the father not been present at the court, it is more than likely that a plea deal would have crept up over the course of the trial. By virtue of their constant presence, Palmer and his friends brought about an outright conviction.

In another instance, the mothers of the students murdered in Naharayim by a Jordanian soldier extemporized a memorial ceremony outside the Jordanian embassy, following the publication of a letter signed by a hundred Jordanian parliamentarians calling for the release of the murderer. The mothers met with the Jordanian ambassador and extracted a promise from him as a representative of Jordan that the murderer would not be released.

That was a sterling example of civil responsibility.

Alongside acts of murder and destruction, the terrorism machine runs a sophisticated civil support system including jurists, authors, artists, journalists, and more. There needs to be a parallel civilian movement to oppose them. Otherwise, there will continue to be reprises of what happened with Samir Issawi, a terrorist who was released in the Schalit Deal. That deal was conditioned on the terrorists’ not breaking any laws: otherwise they were to return to prison to serve out their sentences. Issawi resumed illegal activities, was caught, and went on a hunger strike. A group of authors appealed to Netanyahu for him, a leftist women’s group broke into the hospital where he was located, Haaretz lent its support, and Netanyahu surrendered. The public failed to wake up and do something. Netanyahu gave instructions to make a deal with the terrorists’ lawyers allowing him to be released early, and instead of ten years, he ended up with eight months!

At Almagor, bereaved parents and terror victims give of their time to fight a civil, political, legal, and media struggle against terrorism. They view themselves as soldiers without uniforms. Their battle cry is “Al magor!” “No fear!”

You don’t have to be a victim to fight terrorism. Join us. Together we’ll put an end to the decline of our national endurance in the face of terrorism.

From the Interrogation of the Murderer of Eviatar Borovsky

Meir Indor

Lt.-Col. (ret.) Meir Indor is CEO of Almagor Terror Victims Association. In his extended career of public service, he has worked as a journalist, founded the Libi Fund, Sar-El, Habaita, among many other initiatives, and continues to lend his support to other pressing causes of the day.

From the Interrogation of the Murderer of Eviatar Borovsky

Terror victims have families that expect justice to be done, just as they were promised.

The Jewish Press


The funeral of stabbing victim Eviatar Borovsky, April 30, 2013.

What is your name?

Salam al-Zaghal.

Tell me about yourself.

Wait, is my lawyer almost here?

No, and you’re not going to see him for a few days yet either. Now—three years in jail wasn’t enough for you?

It’s not so bad there. We get 1,600 shekels every month from the Palestinian Authority to buy stuff at the canteen. Also a salary. We watch TV. Get family visits. Play with sports equipment the Red Cross brings. Great food. We’re treated as prisoners of war.

I tried throwing rocks to kill, I didn’t manage, I got just three years. I got out of jail, went back to killing, and this time I did it.

But now you’ll serve much longer.

Give me a break. Do you actually believe that? Either Hamas will get another soldier, or Abbas will put me on a list of prisoners he demands be freed. And if not this time, then next time around.

We at the ISA would oppose any such move.

Look, are you for real, or did you come to laugh at me while I’m lying in the hospital? You opposed the Schalit Deal too. We won.

Everyone’s learned the lesson. It won’t happen again.

I think you should take a look at Haaretz, boss. You remember Samir Issawi, the prisoner who went on a hunger strike? One of the ones who were freed in the Schalit Deal? He went back to the “resistance.” Because of pressure from you at the ISA and Almagor at the Supreme Court, a condition was attached to the release, that if there would be any sort of minor violation, a prisoner would go back and serve his whole sentence—in his case, ten years.

So what? He went on a hunger strike. Your journalists stuck up for him, and Netanyahu decided to free him in another eight months. You didn’t see the letter they wrote for him in Haaretz? They were practically fawning over him.

Maybe I’ll go on my own hunger strike …

Cut out the political lectures. I want to know who’s behind you.

The whole Palestinian people. The radio stations—

No, no. Who sent you?

Listen to the radio! Look at the schools’ syllabuses praising the shuhada (martyrs)!

You people don’t even listen to Abbas and Jibril Rajoub! They hold us up as national heroes. They’re the ones who sent me.

Let’s talk about what happened at the time of the attack.

I saw that your bus stops are total chaos so much of the time. You have soldiers there, but they stand off on the side, and they don’t give us any problems getting to the hitchhiking stations. There haven’t been roadblocks in ages. If there were a red line around the station saying we can’t go past, then granted, the soldiers would notice I’d gone over there. But there isn’t any.

I bought a big knife. I stood there with a bunch of laborers, walked around as if going to the hitchhiking station, went over to my target, and stabbed him a few times. Simple as can be.

But didn’t he have a pistol? Weren’t there armed soldiers?

Yeah, but the Zionists don’t walk around with their guns ready—even the settlers. They’re bashful. I love it. Obviously if I saw settlers with guns drawn every day, I wouldn’t think about coming near them.

Nah, I wasn’t afraid I’d get killed. The soldiers weren’t going to shoot to kill as long as I was done killing. It’s such a game. You put your hands up, you go to the slammer.

But what did you get out of it? You killed a man with five children.

We got plenty out of it. Today Netanyahu said that the solution is two states for two peoples. Why do you think he said that? Because of the armed struggle.

* * *

The members of the Bat Ayin underground, the only Jewish terrorist group serving time in prison, received sentences of 13 to 15 years. For Palestinians, attempted murder carries a sentence of eight years or less. We discovered this factoid when we obtained lists of prisoners who stand to be released: the most recent ones received eight years or less for unsuccessful gunfire. For rock throwing they receive two to three years. One military judge saw fit to determine that since rocks do not always hit their target, it is fallacious to assume that those who throw them intend to murder. The message is simple: First kill a Jew. Then we’ll figure out your intent based on the results.

We investigated the 120 prisoners Mahmoud Abbas is demanding Israel release because they are “long-time prisoners,” “old,” or “sick,” and it turns out that nearly all of them are serving life sentences (or two, or three … or 17). Almagor (The Jewish Terror Victims Association) now has in its possession the names of all those terrorists, as well as descriptions of what they did, and is waiting for a brave journalist who is prepared to expose this information to the public through the media, the bulk of which is under the thumb of Jibril Rajoub, the lead Palestinian propagandist on this issue.

Here are a few of the terrorists’ names: Mustafa Kalib Asrar, murderer of Tzvi Klein of Ofra. Abu Harabish Salam Saliman Mahmoud, murderer of David de la Roza and the Weiss family. Issa Mousa Issa Mahmoud, murderer of Nissim Toledano. Abd a-Rabba Namer Jibril Issa, murderer of Revital Sari and Ron Levi.

The murder victims have families that expect justice to be done, just as they were promised. They expect that justice will not cancelled due to pressures that are not germane, with a wink that yes, we promised at the graveside that our long arm would catch them, but we didn’t promise they would serve out their sentences …

Originally published at Makor Rishon.
Translated from Hebrew by David B. Greenberg.
The above does not represent an actual interrogation transcript.