NEW YORK- The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is deeply troubled by reports that the Israeli government is planning to again released dangerous Arab terrorists in exchange for the bodies of dead Israeli soldiers held by the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon.
Israel is said to be planning to release Samir Kuntar, who murdered four Israelis in 1979, including a 2 year-old girl, and France would release George Abdullah, who murdered an Israeli Embassy official in Paris in 1982, in exchange for the bodies of three Israeli soldiers and information about an Israeli P.O.W., Ron Arad, according to a Lebanese newspaper report (quoted by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, May 6, 2004).
The ZOA recalls that following Israels release, earlier this year, of 400 Palestinian Arab terrorists in exchange for an Israeli businessman kidnapped by Hezbollah and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Jonathan Peled said: Were releasing the 400 Palestinians with very heavy hearts, because we know that those Palestinians will very quickly return to the cycle of terrorism. (New York Times, Jan. 31, 2004)
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said:
Any government which knows that released prisoners will return to terrorism has an obligation to its citizens to keep those prisoners in jail. Releasing terrorists rewards terrorism and encourages more kidnappings and murders of Israelis, in order to obtain new Israeli concessions and additional releases of terrorists. It enhances the image of Hezbollah and other terrorists in the Arab world. It only makes Hezbollah more powerful and increases its ability gain recruits especially when recruits feel that, if captured, Hezbollah will eventually gain their release.
We urge the Israeli government to refrain from the future release of terrorists, whether in prisoner exchanges or any other circumstances. Granting freedom to those who will engage in terrorism directly undermines the international war against terror.
Although there is substantial evidence that many terrorists who were released in the past subsequently resumed their terrorism, Peleds statement was the first time that a senior Israeli official stated publicly and categorically that the Israeli government knows the terrorists releases will very quickly engage in more terrorism. Thus the release of terrorists may well directly endanger the lives of Israeli citizens, as well as the lives of the many American citizens residing in or visiting Israel. Fifty-one American citizens have been murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists in Israel since 1993.