I am writing these words moments after belatedly watching a recorded video that went to air on Israel’s Channel 2 News on Friday night.
It shows the Hamas terrorist, Ahlam Tamimi, being asked: “Do you feel sorry for what you did?”
She answers her interviewer without a trace of hesitation:. “No. Why should I feel sorry?”
The interviewer persists: “Would you do it again if you had the chance?” Her unwavering response: “Yes.”
Tamimi was reaffirming the declaration she made originally in 2006: “I do not regret what I did”, is the way she put it then.
One summer vacation day in August, 2001, Tamimi murdered my fifteen year old, daughter along with 14 other innocent men, women and children who were having lunch at the Jerusalem Sbarro pizza restaurant.
I wonder whether PM Netanyahu has heard Tamimi’s statements. Could he possibly have agreed to free an unrepentant, cold-blooded murderer, sentenced to 16 life terms after she publicly committed to murder again? Perhaps he simply hasn’t seen the interview.
Or perhaps the Prime Minister did see it and wasn’t moved. After all, several months ago my husband and I sent him a letter detailing the crimes of which Tamimi was convicted and pleading with him to refuse to release her.
In that letter, we reminded him that she is generally described mistakenly as the “driver” or “helper”. We noted that she was actually the planner and engineer of the attack. She personally transported the 10 kg bomb concealed in a guitar case in a taxi from Ramallah to Jerusalem, met up with Al Masri, the suicide bomber, and handed him the case.
The two then walked together, disguised as tourists, to the center of the city. They stopped at the target Tamimi had selected. She instructed Al Masri to wait fifteen minutes before detonating the explosives. She wanted him to give her enough time to escape the scene safely, she explained later.
Prime Minister Netanyahu never responded to our written plea. He did not attempt to explain to us why he decided to include Tamimi in this horrific deal despite her uniquely demonic credentials: a mass murderer who has served nine years and has publicly proclaimed her lack of remorse and intention to murder again.
Now the day nears when we fear Tamimi will board the bus to a free life in Jordan, when her own prediction of 2006 - “I will be free again” - is realized.
We feel desperate.
We beg Mr Netanyahu to grant us a few minutes of his time and hear us out. In any sane country with a fair judicial system, even paroled murderers are not released without granting the victims’ loved ones a chance to address the parole board.
I thought Israel is such a state. I pray that I was not wrong.
Click here to read Haaretz's interview with the Roth family, immediately following Malka Chana's death in 2001.