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.
Terror victims divided over Schalit prisoner swap
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.
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.
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
Sasson, from the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat
Ze’ev, worked as a candy factory worker in the industrial area of Mishor
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.
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
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
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
“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
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.
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.”