Bereaved Parents Petition Against Censorship of Shalit Talks
Almagor Terror Victims Association, bereaved parents demand free publication of details of impending prisoner exchange deal, including list of names of terrorists slated for release, say, ‘Use of censorship wrong, illegal, meant to prevent proper public debate’
A petition filed to the High Court of Justice on Tuesday by bereaved parents calls for the removal of the censorship the State of Israel places on details pertaining to an impending prisoner exchange deal for the release of Gilad Shalit.
The petition was filed by bereaved parents and the Almagor Terror Victims Association against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the government and the military censorship, and calls for free publication of reports and details of the deal, including the required criteria for the release of Palestinian prisoners.
The petition, filed by Ron Karman, Yossi Zur, Yossi Mendelvitch, who lost their children in a Haifa bus bomb in 2003, and Almagor, argues that, “In recent days, reports have been circulating in the media of a deal nearing finalization, which will include the release of hundreds of prisoners who were tried and sentenced, including prisoners convicted of mass murder, prisoners who are residents of Israel, and all the red lines drawn by the government are about to be crossed.”
The three petitioners noted that the planners of the terror attack that left their children dead were caught and are currently serving their sentences while being up for release as part of an exchange deal.
The bereaved parents’ petition further read, “The question of the release of murderers with blood on their hands as part of a deal for the release of a captive Israeli soldier is a serious question, which is meant to keep the State’s leaders occupied. This is a question with legal, moral, ethical and security consequences of the highest degree, and it should not be decided on in secret without a thorough and comprehensive discussion, based only on public opinion shaped by publicists and the campaign led by the Shalit family, whose position is understood and clear, and its personal pain rules out any alternative to releasing prisoners at all costs.”
On the issue of censorship, the petition said, “Military censorship has been used to block reports of the deal being formed, as well as the publication of the list of those designated for release, in a manner that prevents unbiased public debate. The list of terrorists and murderers whose release is up for discussion has not been cleared for publication, and neither have details of the impending deal. The use of censorship in the above matter is wrong and illegal – there is a moral and ethical question on the agenda, and this manner in which the censorship is being used is wrong and illegal – and has one purpose – to prevent a proper public debate in one of the basic issues of our lives before a decision is made.”
‘Not a Personal Vendetta’
Mendelvitch told Ynet shortly before the petition was filed, “This is not a persona vendetta of ours. The public must know which murderers will be released and threaten our lives. These are not people who worked in beads or in agriculture. The cabinet’s minister must not think collective responsibility will protect them when they approve this awful deal. When Israeli citizens are murdered by terrorists that were released, their blood will be on the hands of those who approved the deal.”
Zur added, “The Shas MK’s proposal to have the terrorists sign a one million shekel guarantee as a condition for their release is a step in the right direction. Maybe they are starting to sober up and understand the disastrous significance of the deal.”
Meanwhile, Netanyahu commented on reports of progress in talks on Tuesday and said he would allow a public debate in the matter if conditions for a deal are reached with Hamas. However, the prime minister stressed that as of yet, “there is no agreement and no decision.”
“There is still no deal and I don’t know if there will be one,” he said, “If there is, it will be brought before the government. We will spare no public discussion, and we will not execute it in secret. We will allow ministers and the public to debate it,” Netanyahu said speaking from the police headquarters in Jerusalem.