ZOA: Israel’s Freeing Terrorists Has Increased Terror Groups Demands To Release More Killers Of Jews
October 13, 2008


The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has pointed to new evidence that the freeing of jailed Palestinian and other terrorists by Israel to release more killers of Jews is feeding the terrorist organizations’ appetites and leading them to increase their demands upon Israel as well as endangering Israeli lives. The new evidence comes from Israeli negotiators involved in the talks over kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who say Israel will have to change its criteria regarding the Palestinian prisoners it is willing to release as a result of heightened demand by Hamas as to what they will settle for before releasing the Israeli serviceman. The negotiators said that Hamas has raised its demands, arguing that Israel has already released Samir Kuntar, who was convicted of killing four Israelis in a 1979 terror attack in Nahariya, and two prisoners of the same ilk, Abu Ali Yatta and Sa’id al-Ataba, as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority (PA) – two more terrorists described officially by Israel as “having blood on their hands.” Now Hamas wants Israel to agree to this principle in order to renew the talks (Avi Issacharoff, ‘Sources: Hamas has raised price of Shalit deal in wake of Kuntar release,’ Haaretz, October 13, 2008).


Samir Kuntar, of the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), at the time of his release earlier this year, was serving multiple life terms for the killing of three members of the Haran family and policeman Eliahu Shahar in Nahariya in 1979. Kuntar was captured in Nahariya and jailed in April 1979 when he and other PLF terrorists seized Danny Haran, 28, and his 4-year old daughter, Einat, in their home and removed them to the Nahariya beachfront where Kuntar shot Danny Haran in front of his daughter, then drowned him in the sea to ensure he was dead, before smashing the 4-year-old’s skull with a rock and crushing it with the butt of his rifle. Danny Haran’s wife, Smadar, managed to hide with her other daughter, 2-year-old Yael, whom she accidentally suffocated in an effort not to betray their whereabouts while hiding in another part of their apartment when her husband and other daughter were seized by Kuntar. Kuntar has never expressed remorse, justifies his multiple murders and said that he would join Hizballah upon his release, which received him with massive celebrations in Beirut.


Kuntar was freed as part of this past summer’s prisoner swap with the Lebanese Shia organization Hizballah. In exchange for Kuntar and four other Lebanese prisoners, Israel received the bodies of two kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were captured in a Hezbollah raid that ignited the Second Lebanon War in 2006.


Col. Meir Indor, the Director of Almagor Terror Victims Association (ATVA), disclosed in April 2007 that 177 Israelis killed in terror attacks in the previous five years had been 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, 2007). Also at that time, 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, 2007).




Palestinian reaction to the freeing in 2008 of terrorists with blood on their hands:


·        Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh: “…this operation is the best lesson that can be achieved – a victory over the occupation, liberating lands and liberating prisoners … This is a precedent” (Ze’ev Ben-Yechiel, ‘Prisoner Swap: Israel Mourns, Hizbullah and PA Celebrate,’ Israel National News, July 16, 2008).

·        Abu Mujahed, a spokesman for the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees, said that the deal “even after the images of the Israeli soldiers’ coffins, proves that kidnapping soldiers will continue to be the most efficient, favored and ideal way to release Palestinian prisoners, particularly those defined by the enemy as having blood on their hands.” (Ze’ev Ben-Yechiel, ‘Prisoner Swap: Israel Mourns, Hizbullah and PA Celebrate,’ Israel National News, July 16, 2008).



ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “Tragically, we see all too clearly with this development what a terrible mistake it has been for Israel to agree to release of jailed terrorists, especially those with blood on their hands, something Prime Minister Olmert and his predecessors never said they would do in return for the return of Israeli servicemen captured or kidnapped, living or dead. To all those proponents of releasing terrorists who have argued that releasing them presents neither further security risks nor endangers remaining or future kidnapped Israelis, the evidence is now in: assuming for the sake of argument that some sort of exchange in order to secure the return of a kidnapped Israeli hostage was the prudent and correct course to follow, we see today that it has become harder to secure the release of Gilad Shalit precisely because of similar such deals, and especially the last, in which Israel agreed to freeing terrorists with blood on their hands.


“The ZOA has always argued that the criterion “no blood on their hands” was a false one to guide us as to the danger of releasing terrorists. The Israeli government has defined a terrorist ‘without blood on his hands’ as including those convicted for attempting to kill, planting or throwing bombs or shooting at Israelis in attacks that happened to prove non-lethal. 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. However, bad as it is to release such people, it is even worse to release terrorists who have murdered Jews and who have been celebrated in their societies for having done so.


“We derive no pleasure in having been right to assert at the time of Kuntar’s release that when “Israel releases live terrorists for the remains of dead soldiers … the lives of other present and future kidnapped Israeli servicemen will be further jeopardized. Hizballah and other terror groups will draw the message that, as Israel will release the biggest murderers like Kuntar in exchange for corpses, then they need not even keep kidnapped Israeli servicemen alive. It is not impossible, in fact it is even likely, that the two Israeli servicemen whose corpses [were] released were murdered by Hizballah after capture because of this sort of calculation. This release makes it likely that there will be more kidnapping of Israelis by terrorists in the future while endangering the lives of Israelis kidnapped.

“I want to make it clear, as I have on previous occasions, that the ZOA deeply sympathizes with Israeli families when their sons are kidnapped by bloodthirsty terrorists. We would support virtually any efforts 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 must painfully accept the fact that we will save more Israeli lives by not rewarding kidnappings through prisoner releases.”



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