Israeli government faced severe and unprecedented criticism on Wednesday at the annual memorial ceremony for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorist attacks, when bereaved father Yossi Mendelevitz criticized the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap deal as a victory for Hamas.
At the ceremony that took place at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, Terror Victims Association Chairman Mendelevitz, who lost his son in a terrorist act in Haifa in 2003, told the gathered crowd that "Hamas won."
"We see the murderers on television shows, those responsible for the worst terrorist acts against Israel are free."
Concerning the prisoner swap deal, in which Israel agreed to release some 1,0000 Palestinians prisoners in exchange for the captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, Mendelevitz asked "at the end of the day the swap deal was accepted, but at what price?"
Cpl. Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas to Gaza on the 25th of June 2006 and was held in captivity for over 5 years. Israel agreed to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for Shalit, 450 of them were convicted terrorists, 280 of which served life sentences. Most of the Israeli public supported the exchange.
Addressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was sitting in the audience, Mendelevitz asked, "What is the security plan regarding the release of terrorists? We demand to know how the government intends to act."
At the end of his speech the audience applauded Mendelevitz, even though this is not customary at memorial events.
"It is true that once a year we remember the terror victims, but on the remaining 364 days we forget and neglect them. The apparent hierarchy between the fallen soldiers and civilian terrorist act victims is maintained," Mendelvitz added.
Netanyahu, who spoke earlier, said that "the terrorists' horrific actions against us don't know moral boundaries. The cruelty of the terrorists cannot be satisfied. They have one thing in common: they want to murder Jews, they want to uproot our people and land. They will not succeed. We will stay in Jerusalem – the united city of the Jewish people."
Netanyahu added that the bereaved families share his determination. Addressing the families in the audience, Netanyahu said: "I saw it in the families of the Toulouse murders and in each and every one of you. They murder and we build."
The Memorial Day for the 22,993 fallen soldiers and victims of terrorist acts was commemorated Wednesday with a two minute nationwide siren sound at 11 A.M. and memorial services that were held all over the country.
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