I write this with a heavy heart, remembering those who are no longer here, taken away in their prime by means of intentional and indiscriminate slaughter by Palestinian terrorists, be it on buses, in shopping centers, restaurants, night clubs or other public places where we should have been safe to go about our lives. Not just the lives that were extinguished in a terrifying moment, but the thousands that were seriously wounded, many for the rest of their lives.
Now I hear and read reports in the local and international media that the government is seriously considering releasing more Palestinian terrorists from jail, many of whom committed the most gruesome crimes against us, many serving multiple life sentences for the murder of many innocent civilians, men women and children.
The Israeli justice system gave these terrorists a more than fair trial, and their sentences, while not commensurate with their crimes nevertheless constituted some measure of justice; at least they would never be released.
Now some of those seeking peace think that persuading the government to release these murderers as a goodwill measure will bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table. Even if it were so, the crimes committed by these barbarians were so heinous that for the government or release them or use them as bargaining chips would make a mockery of the justice system, in addition to encouraging and rewarding terrorism and causing even more pain for the families of their victims.
The results of our goodwill measures to the Palestinians in the past have been particularly bad. Our government has released thousands of terrorists only to have them come back and continue murdering our people.
One report I have seen in the media claims that since the year 2000, over 180 innocent Israelis have been killed by released terrorists. Based on this experience and claims that around half of all those released return to terrorist activities against us, how could our government contemplate releasing even more terrorists knowing full well around half will go straight back to terror? It would be foolhardy, and moreover in my view would render the government culpable for the resulting deaths; we know full well the outcome will be more death, we just don’t know the names and times.
There are quite a number of reputable websites naming terrorists released either as swaps or as goodwill measures and the names of those they killed after they were released. Those putting pressure on us should be shown the history of previous releases and the stories of those killed, and be told in clear terms that terrorists will no longer be released, not as goodwill measures or for any other reason.
The Palestinian Authority continues to promote and glorify suicide bombers in its media, and also continues to name streets and events after these suicide bombers. Goodwill measures should not include releasing convicted murderers, and only be carried out when the other side is also acting in a reasonable manner toward us.
This is far from the case. The PA continues to act as an enemy organization and should be treated as such. Goodwill measures should only be considered where both sides are saying, let’s try to put the past behind us and move on.
Pardons should only be possible in extremely rare circumstances, maybe in the case of one-for-one swaps of prisoners for hostages. Or possibly in rare cases in which a prisoner has reached an advanced age, or has an extreme medical condition and has shown real remorse. This is not the case for any of those under consideration.
The families of the victims have already suffered immensely. The government was elected to protect our people, we finally have a state to watch over us and we expect our government to stand firm in the face of unreasonable and unconscionable demands. We all want peace, but not at the price of more guaranteed deaths of our people.
The writer is a member of the extended executive of the World Zionist Organization, and director of Strategic Development for the Knesset Forum on International Relations. The views expressed above are his own.