At court, bereaved families grapple with prisoner swap

‘I’m happy Gilad is getting out, but the responsibility shouldn’t be on us,’ says mother who lost her son.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
October 17, 2011 18:59
3 minute read.

anti prisoner release demonstration 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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Small crowds gathered outside the High Court of Justice on Monday waiting to enter the hearing for the petition against the prisoner release in exchange for Gilad Schalit.

For the victims of terror, it was a chance to try and make their voices heard during a process in which they’ve felt largely ignored and powerless.

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Fifteen terror victims marched from the Har Herzl cemetery to the courtroom to demonstrate their disagreement with the deal. Outside the courtroom, supporters of the swap waited patiently along with victims of terror who were appealing the deal.

“I want to know I did everything I could [to keep him in prison],” Zeev Rapp said of the man who killed his daughter Helena in Bat Yam in 1992.

Like many others, Rapp found out from a TV report that the terrorists responsible for killing his daughter were being released as part of the deal. He blasted the government for this insensitivity and for not having the courtesy to notify families during such a difficult time.

“I feel like the walls aren’t moving, like you’re talking to a wall and it doesn’t help, because we already know the answer,” said Chaya Rund after exiting the courtroom. Rund’s son, Erez, was killed by a sniper on his way from Eli to Ofra on June 6, 2002. “But it’s important to stand up and to talk and to yell and be heard, it’s part of the process, that you didn’t just stand and shut up, but you did something.



“The nation is in euphoria now,” Rund said. “I’m really happy that Gilad is getting out, but the responsibility shouldn’t be on us.”

MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) said he came to support the bereaved families as he arrived at the courtroom at noon on Monday.

“Today every Arab child knows they can murder 20 or 30 Jews and tomorrow they will go free,” he said, calling the prisoner swap a clear message that “killing Jews is permissible.”

As the hearing stretched on through the afternoon, young children from families affected by terrorism ran around the lobby outside the courtroom, sliding on the slick surface and singing holiday songs as dozens of members of the media waited for a response.

“The media has come out squarely behind the Schalits and they make terror victims look bad, like we’re very selfish, like we’re only thinking about ourselves,” said Alan Bauer, a doctor from Jerusalem who was wounded along with his son in the March 21, 2002 bombing on King George Street that killed three and wounded 87.

“But we’re not only thinking about ourselves, we’re thinking about the future terror victims, not only the ones in the past,” he said as he entered the courtroom.

“My son is no different from Gilad Schalit. Why are his rights any different from Gilad’s? He had a screw through his head,” said Bauer, insisting that the terrorists responsible should finish their terms in prison.

Some of the terror victims, however, supported the prisoner release.

“I support this deal, because they didn’t do it with Ron Arad and they were sorry for it,” said Eliyahu Karamani, whose son Ronen was killed on August 5, 1990. “It’s hard... but what if this were my son in captivity?” he asked. “I’d be happy that people came to support me.”

Still, he said he could identify with bereaved families who did not support the deal.

“It’s the right of everyone to decide what their feeling is. What they’re feeling inside,” he said. “But I can’t compel the family of a son who killed my son to stay [in prison],” he said.

Click for full JPost coverage of Gilad Schalit

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