We need to remove our rose-colored glasses. With exactly a year between us and the deal between Israel and Hamas for the release of Gilad Shalit, it is time for a cold hard look at that event.
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Only a few Israelis then believed that Israel's release of 1,027 convicted Palestinian terrorists from prison in return for Shalit’s release would trigger a rise in terrorism. The Shalit camp ridiculed that view as alarmism, promulgated by terror victim families. Was it indeed?
Following the swap, the Shin Bet and the IDF began to report a dramatic increase in the number of terror attacks. That trend has continued. September 2012 saw 91 attacks versus 51 in August 2012. Fifteen of the terrorists released in the Shalit prisoner swap have since been arrested for terror-related activities.
The IDF has also cited a dramatic increase in cash-smuggling into the West Bank since the swap. Some of this money has been spent on outfitting new terror cells operated by some of the 55 prisoners released in the deal to the West Bank.
This escalation has been attributed to two factors. One is economic strife and unrest in the West Bank. The second is the rise in support for Hamas in the West Bank.
The day after the Shalit swap, Avi Issacharoff wrote here about the Hamas revival:
“Tuesday showed that after nearly four years, Hamas has reared its head in the West Bank. It's doing so with Israel's help. The Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal has in many ways thrown Hamas a life preserver. The organization['s] civilian and military infrastructure [had] almost completely disappeared from the West Bank in recent years - and support for it tumbled To Israeli viewers who witnessed the sight of hundreds of Hamas supporters waving the organization's flag in the West Bank after more than four years It was a sad day many Israelis couldn't see the price involved: Hamas celebrating in the streets of the West Bank, masses of people vowing to kidnap Israelis, songs of praise of Hamas' military wing and crowds vowing to continue the jihad until Israel is destroyed.”
But it is the activities of one released prisoner that best demonstrates Netanyahu’s folly.
Our daughter’s murderer, Ahlam Tamimi, was the principal perpetrator of the Jerusalem Sbarro restaurant massacre which claimed fifteen innocent lives. Tamimi has boasted that after several spy forays to the area, she alone selected the target. She herself transported the 10 kg nail and bolt-enhanced bomb through the Qalandia checkpoint, relying on her deceptively innocent demeanor. And she escorted and instructed her "weapon," the suicide bomber. She noted that she warned him to wait fifteen minutes before detonating the bomb to ensure her own safe escape from the scene.
Tamimi has been tirelessly inspiring and inciting terrorism from the moment Netanyahu sent her into what he terms “exile.” Actually, she was returned to her family, her birthplace and her home in Jordan. How that constitutes “exile” is anyone’s guess.
Tamimi was also the only prisoner to have expressly stated on video, before and after her release, that she has no regrets about her actions. She was seen on a documentary film smiling broadly upon learning the number of children she murdered – five more than the three she had presumed.
Tamimi is one of 10 prisoners out of the 1,027 released to have served the smallest fraction of their sentence (11 years out of 16 consecutive life sentences).
Tamimi has been the only released terrorist to travel freely since her release. In Lebanon, Tunisia, Qatar and Dubai, she has addressed mass rallies of her fans. Thousands more budding Islamist murderers throughout the Arab world imbibe her evil via the weekly talk show she hosts for the Hamas TV station Al Quds.
But our government apparently felt Tamimi’s quality of life left something to be desired. She had been pining for her fiance and first cousin, Nazir Al-Tamimi, also a murderer released in the swap. Since an explicit condition of his release was that he remain in the West Bank, he had been refused entry to Jordan several times.
But in July 2012, Mr. Netanyahu decided to ignore that condition. Al-Tamimi was, inexplicably, allowed to cross the Allenby Bridge. Our legal attempts to prevent that move were met with stalling from the Prime Minister’s office. Israel benefited in no way from this gift to the pair of bloodthirsty murderers.
Netanyahu seems to make trampling the Israeli justice system a habit. Court rulings and judge’s advice are expendable nuisances. He seems to be oblivious to the ramifications that his approach is having on our society.
Here is what the fifth president of the Supreme Court said recently about excessive mercy for criminals: “Until the Messiah arrives, we cannot manage without the deterrent power of justice and the fear of justice.” Though the late Justice Moshe Landau was referring to white collar offenses, is his warning irrelevant to crimes like mass murder?
By releasing convicted terrorists with blood on their hands, Netanyahu crossed the red lines that he swore time and again he would respect. Now he lectures other world leaders about drawing red lines. Is it any wonder he is being ignored?
Frimet Roth is a freelance writer in Jerusalem. Her daughter Malki, 15, was murdered in the 2001 Sbarro restaurant bombing in Jerusalem. With her husband Arnold, she established the Malki Foundation (www.kerenmalki.org) in 2001 which provides concrete support for Israeli families of all faiths who care at home for a special-needs child.