ZOA Criticizes Israeli Release Of 91 Jailed Palestinian Terrorists As A Tragic Mistake
September 26, 2007

47 of 91 released prisoners
convicted for attempted murder

New York — The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized as a tragic mistake the decision by the Israeli government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to release 91 jailed terrorists as a “goodwill gesture” on the eve of the Muslim Edi el-Fitr holiday. Prime Minister Olmert has said that he is willing to release prisoners who are not serving time for attacks on Israelis, who identify with Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) government and renounce violence (Haaretz, September 24). The government has also repeatedly said that it would only release prisoners who do not have “blood on their hands,” but 47 of the 91 released prisoners were convicted for attempting to kill, planting or throwing bombs or shooting at Israelis (Independent Media Review Analysis, September 24).


Only this week, Israeli Border Police special forces arrested a Fatah terrorist, Fares Mansour, a member of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, who had been pardoned by Israel two months earlier along with 180 Fatah members. Mansour was arrested after being found in possession of explosives and weapons. As with the other pardoned Fatah members, he had signed an affidavit renouncing terror acts (Haaretz, September 24).


A 2006 detailed report issued by the Almagor Terror Victims Association (ATVA), shows that between the years 1993-1999, Israel released 6,912 terrorists within the context of “confidence building measures” and prisoner deals. Of that number, 854 (14%) were arrested subsequently for lethal terrorists acts which claimed the lives of 123 Israelis. The ATVA report concluded, “The mass killing due to these attacks included … a huge number of victims with disabilities due to the attack and many other victims. In all the previous death-bargains, the overwhelming majority of those released returned to terrorist activities, at the cost of a huge destruction of life.”

Meir Indor, Director of ATVA, disclosed in April that 177 Israelis killed in terror attacks in the last five years were killed by Palestinians who had been previously released from Israeli jails on the basis that they were “without blood on their hands” (Jerusalem Post, April 10). Also in April, the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee Chairman, Tzachi Hanegbi (Kadima) said that 35 Israelis had been murdered by prisoners Israel released in exchange for Elchanan Tennenbaum, an Israeli businessman kidnapped by Hizballah (Independent Media & Review Analysis, April 13).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA has consistently opposed the release of Palestinian Arab prisoners by Israel, not merely because doing so provides excellent incentives for kidnapping more Israelis and thus freeing more terrorists held by Israel, but because, as the ATVA report has clearly shown, such exchanges have been proved in the past to result in further massive loss of innocent Jewish life. It is clear that prisoners the Israeli government is defining as ‘not having blood on their hands’ often fall into that category simply because their terror plans failed, or because others pulled the trigger or detonated the bomb. This makes them attempted murderers or accessories to murder. We are fooling ourselves if we believe releasing such people will not lead to further murder and maiming of innocent Israeli men, women and children. It is also a travesty of justice that murderers and attempted murderers go free without serving their sentences.

“Additionally, releasing jailed terrorists makes no sense. Mahmoud Abbas is neither a moderate nor peace-maker but even if he was both, such a release of a large number of terrorists belonging to his organization would be a terrible mistake. Consider: if Mahmoud Abbas was serious about ending terrorism and making peace, which are signed Palestinian obligations under the Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan, the last thing he would want is to have hundreds of freed terrorists roaming the streets of the PA. A leader committed to rooting out terror would want such men to remain behind bars; he would not be agitating for their release.

“The ZOA deeply sympathizes with Israeli families and others when their sons are kidnapped by terrorists. As we have said on previous occasions, we would support virtually any effort to bring them home safely. But when the record clearly shows that prisoner releases bring only more terror, more murder and more kidnappings of Jewish people, we painfully must accept the fact that we will save more Israeli lives by not rewarding kidnappings through prisoner releases.”

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