Monday, December 19, 2011

Roth - Freeing still more convicted terrorists, and unanswered questions

Frimet/Arnold Roth
This Ongoing War
18 December '11

It's late Sunday night here in Jerusalem. In the dark, Israel is releasing 550 Palestinian prisoners from its jails. This is the second and final phase of the agreement between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization, brokered by the government of post-Arab-spring Egypt, by which the Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit was freed from illegal captivity. Shalit is now safely at home, but hundreds more Palestinian Arabs, many of them convicted of terrorist offences, are being bused at this moment to various places: 505 of them to Judea and Samaria via Beituniya Crossing; two prisoners to East Jerusalem via the Atarot army base; two more to Jordan via the Allenby Bridge; and 41 to the waiting arms of Hamas in Gaza.

This lot will join the 447 Palestinian murderers and arch-terrorists who were freed by Israel in the first part of this appalling deal. Our daughter's murderer was sent to Jordan in October; it's the land of her birth, the country where she spent almost her entire life until she was convicted on fifteen counts of murder, and the kingdom in which her father and siblings live - yet it's called 'exile'. Since her arrival there, she has been feted as a celebrity and a hero.

Ynet is reporting that IDF forces and some 400 relatives of the Palestinian Arab prisoners being freed in this transaction clashed tonight at the Beitunia checkpoint near Ofer Prison, a few minutes drive from where we live in Jerusalem. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit reported that a soldier was lightly injured by a hurled stone.

Here are the questions that keep haunting us. We addressed them to a group of like-minded Israeli and pro-Israel friends some weeks ago, and got no satisfactory answers. We're experiencing another major step by the government of Israel - the wholesale release of convicted terrorists. If it's a bad one, we all get to pay the price. Is there some way to rationalize on moral, legal and/or pragmatic grounds the case for Israel handing over several hundred more convicted Palestinian Arab prisoners now that Gilad is safely at home? Is there a way to justify keeping our word when dealing with genocidal terrorist fanatics?

To those who would answer that the prisoners being bused to freedom tonight are mainly petty thieves, it's just not so. You can try to figure out what they did by looking at the English language version of the being-released list posted on the Israel Prison Service website this past Wednesday night. But you won't find any information there about the crimes these people did. The Hebrew version is much more helpful but obviously much less accessible. In reality, the list includes individuals convicted of attempted murder, conspiracy to intentionally cause the death of a victim or victims, shooting, manufacturing bombs, planting explosives in concealed locations where they were intended to explode, hurling explosives at Israelis, and a range of other acts of willful, deliberate terror. (We prepared a blended Hebrew/English version highlighting the many terrorists serving sentences of 7 years and more. We will make it available if there's interest.)

The response tonight of Hamas to the second stage of the prisoner deal is predictable. The Hamas spokesman is quoted saying "We've released 20% of the prisoners for one soldier. The Palestinian resistance's goal is to free all the prisoners from Israeli jails."

Hard for us to see this prisoner release transaction as something other than a massively tragic mistake.

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