Terrorism victims petitioned the High Court of Justice on Friday against the government’s decision to release 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for tank gunner Gilad Schalit.

The Almagor Terror Victims Organization, which organized the petition, called the deal “unreasonable and disproportionate” and asked the High Court to delay the releases so victims can organize and study the list of prisoners selected to be freed.

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Among the petitioners are family members of those killed in several terrorist attacks, including the 2001 Sbarro bombing in Jerusalem, which was carried out by several of the prisoners named in an unofficial list published by Hamas-affiliated Al-Aksa TV on Thursday. The official list has yet to be released by the Justice Ministry.

Petitioners say the Schalit deal is unprecedented, both because of the emotional consequences for terrorism victims and the security threat to Israeli civilians and security personnel.

Hovav Nuriel, whose father, Sasson Nuriel, 50, was kidnapped and murdered by a Hamas cell in September 2005, said his family has been shattered by the news that three of the terrorists convicted of his the brutal slaughter were apparently to be freed.

The four men – the cell’s leader, Yasser Mohammed Salah, and Ali Mohammed Ali Qadi, Abdullah Nasser Arrar and Said Ibrahim Shalaldeh – are all named on the prisoner list published by Al-Aksa.

Nuriel told The Jerusalem Post that while he did not have high hopes the High Court petition would succeed, filing it was the only way for terrorism victims to make their voices heard.

“The court needs to hear the victims’ side,” said Nuriel. “In the media frenzy over Schalit’s return, nobody wants to hear our side. But after my father was murdered we were told there would be justice. Our family has been shattered, and this is not justice. That’s why we won’t allow our voices to be silenced.”

Sasson, from the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev, worked as a candy factory worker in the industrial area of Mishor Adumim.

He was kidnapped at gunpoint by members of the cell. His captors, who included two men Sasson had worked with for years, planned to hold him hostage and exchange him for Palestinian prisoners.

The terrorists took him to an apartment in Ramallah, where they videotaped him making a forced statement. That video was later released by Hamas.

Nuriel described how his father, who spoke fluent Arabic, begged for his life.

However, the terrorists panicked when they thought security forces were on their trail. They took Sasson to a landfill outside Ramallah, and killed him with a butcher’s knife.

His bound and mutilated body was later found in Beitunya, near Ramallah.

The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) captured Sasson’s murderers a few weeks later, and they were sentenced to life in prison.

Now Nuriel says his family feels “shattered” to learn that the men convicted of murdering their father and husband will be freed after serving less than six years.

“The government told us there would be justice,” Nuriel said. “And when the men who murdered my father were caught and tried, I went to the court hearings. I read the judgment after they were sentenced. The judges said, this is a trend of abduction and murder and we cannot allow it. They said, we need to send a message. And now Bibi [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu] is saying he knows better than the judges?”

Nuriel says he is afraid that by releasing terrorist prisoners, Hamas will receive a further incentive to carry out more attacks.

“We believe that the government and the prime minister are encouraging these kinds of horrific acts,” he said. “There is no sanity, no decency in talking to Hamas.”

Nuriel pointed to recent comments by Shin Bet director Yoram Cohen that Israel can contain the dangers posed by the released terrorists.

“As civilians, we rely on the security services to protect us,” Nuriel said. “It’s an agreement between the government and civilians. But now, it’s like they are saying there is no agreement.”

Nuriel emphasizes that although he is opposed to the release of the prisoners, he is not motivated by revenge but by a desire to prevent more terrorist attacks.

“Our father will never come back,” he said. “But we don’t want others to suffer the way he did or in the way we are suffering. The media is talking about the countdown to Schalit’s return, but there should also be a countdown for the bodies of the next person to be abducted, the next person to be murdered.”

The Justice Ministry is expected to publish by Sunday morning at the latest a list of the 450 male prisoners and 27 female prisoners due for release in the first stage of the deal.


The prisoner list will be published for public viewing on the Prisons Service website, and the Justice Ministry has also announced plans to operate an information center, which will be available answer telephone inquiries from the public before the prisoners’ release.

The publication of the list is expected to result in more High Court petitions, and the Justice Ministry said in a statement that it would allow “a time span of at least 48 hours after the list is published so that the public can submit its reservations and any objections to the releases.”

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