Netanyahu reaches out to families of terror victims

Netanyahu tells victims' families, "I understand and know your pain," Schalit decision "one of the most difficult I have made."

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October 17, 2011 13:09
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu at home 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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On the eve of Tuesday’s swap for kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reached out to the families of terror victims, many of whom will watch in horror as the murderers of their loved ones are set free.

“I write to you with a heavy heart,” Netanyahu said in an open letter to the families of terror victims. “I understand and know your pain.”

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Writing that he lost his brother in an operation to free hostages, Netanyahu said, “I know that you have a heavy heart, that your wounds have been opened anew these past days; that your thoughts are not at ease.”

Netanyahu said the families “were in my thoughts” during the painful decision-making process and negotiations for Schalit’s return.

“The decision regarding the release of Gilad Schalit was among the most difficult I have made,” he wrote. “It is difficult for me for the same reasons it is difficult for you.”

He said the consideration that guided him in striking the deal was the responsibility of the Israeli prime minister to “bring home every soldier who is sent to protect our citizens.”

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“When I went to fight in the name of the State of Israel, I also always knew that Israel does not abandon its soldiers or citizens,” Netanyahu said.

He said that against the strong desire to bring back home a captive soldier, he also took into consideration the need to reduce the heavy price Israel would have to pay to win Schalit’s release.

“I know the price is especially heavy for you. I understand the difficulty to countenance that the evil people who perpetrated the appalling crimes against your loved ones will not pay the full price that they deserve,” he wrote. “During these moments, I hope you will find solace that I, and the entire nation of Israel, embrace you and share in your pain.”

The Almagor Terror Victims Association issued a scathing response to Netanyahu’s letter, saying the words were empty and not worth the paper they were written on.

“Mr. Prime Minister, you promised us that you would meet us and inform us before there was a deal,” the response read. “You promised a public debate, you promised this would be brought to the Knesset.”

None of that took place.

The organization called on Netanyahu not to participate in what it called Tuesday’s “carnival.”

“This is no national celebration, it is a tragedy,” the response read. “This is surrender, at least think about the bereaved families and the injured who are sitting at home, hurting.”

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