Amid enraged chants of “Shame on you!” hundreds of Israelis gathered in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence Wednesday evening to denounce this coming Saturday’s fourth and final release of 104 convicted Palestinians terrorists.
Standing before a phalanx of protesters hoisting dozens of poster-sized images of murdered loved ones, Gila Molcho, whose brother’s three killers were freed during the 2011 exchange for soldier Gilad Shalit and first and second rounds of the latest releases, could not contain her rage.
“People of Israel, wake up!” she screamed while holding a photo of her brother, Ian Feinberg, killed in Gaza in 1993 after his murderers beat him and slit his throat. “I feel like someone has taken my brother’s body and just thrown it away.”
Molcho warned of the self-defeating nature of the releases, which she said sends a clear message to young Palestinians that murdering Jews will result in celebrity status and a better life.
“We’re increasing terrorism by saying: ‘Don’t worry, you can kill Jews and get out of prison in a few years, get a college degree, have children, get money, and still have your lives ahead of you,” she said. “And we’re left with nothing! We’re left shattered.”
Molcho continued, “On a national level, we are teaching our children that Jewish blood is not sacred.”
As she watched passersby walk past the protest, she excoriated them for their apparent apathy.
“I feel like I want to take every person walking past us and shake them!” she said. “It’s my problem today, but it might be your problem tomorrow!” Indeed, Ornit Gesundheit said she attended the demonstration to protect future victims of terrorism.
“The most important reason I’m here is to save the lives of the people who will be killed if those terrorists are released,” she said.
Her friend, Leora Cohn, expressed disillusionment over the final release.
“I’m really stressed because it’s so hard knowing everything we’ve been through and knowing how much blood has been shed,” she said. “I lived here during the second intifada, when shops and buses were blowing up, because I strongly believe in being here, because we value life, strength, courage, and Zionism.”
Cohn continued: “By releasing terrorists, it’s like spitting in the face of all these values and makes you ask ‘why?’ It hurts to see the government we support – and we do support it – giving away all these values for nothing, because there is no real peace on the way.”
Michael Grossman, a former paratrooper, expressed outraged incredulity that Israel is held to a standard not enforced anywhere else in the globe.
“There’s no way in a normal world that [governments] would release murderers like this – it’s outrageous!” he said. “When I was in the army we captured these terrorists, who were trying to kill little kids – or any other innocent person they could – and now we’re supposed to let them go?” David Jacobs, whose 19-year-old son is serving in the IDF, similarly asked, “Why should he risk his life every day to catch terrorists, if the government is going to release them?” Jonathan Benedek condemned US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama administration for pressuring Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu into agreeing to the releases.
“I think it’s absolutely a disgrace that with this batch we’ll have released more than 100 terrorists over the last nine months,” he said. “It’s simply us bending to pressure from Kerry and the White House to get a framework done as soon as possible.”
Moreover, Benedek contended that setting such a precedent of acquiescence will set a dangerous standard for future negotiations.
“The worst part about this is it is putting us in a hole, because the more terrorists we release, the harder it becomes to argue against another ridiculous concession in the future,” he said. “The longer we bend to Kerry and Obama, the harder it will be to say no to similar demands later on.”
Meanwhile, with respect to speculation that the Obama administration may free Jonathan Pollard as a concession for the released terrorists, Meir Indor, chairman of Almagor Terror Victims Association, said Pollard would rather stay imprisoned than be used to release killers.
“Pollard himself said he wouldn’t want that – that he’d agree to more time in prison instead of this deal, because he doesn’t want blood on his hands,” Indor said.