(photo credit: Courtesy Hazan family)
The murder of Sgt. Tomer Hazan, 20, has shocked the nation. Nidal Amar, 42, the
Palestinian who admitted to murdering Hazan, said he had hoped to use his corpse
to secure the release of his terrorist brother, Nur al-Din Amar, from an Israeli
The brother was arrested in 2003 for involvement in several
terrorist incidents, including a shooting in the village of Azun, in which one
Israeli civilian was wounded, and the planning of a suicide attack that was to
have been carried out by a female bomber inside Israel. Security forces thwarted
Compounding the tragedy are the circumstances surrounding the
murder. A friendship had supposedly developed between the two men as a result of
their work together at Tzachi Meats in Bat Yam – Hazan as a delivery boy (he had
received permission from the IDF to work while serving in the air force) and
Amar as a kitchen worker. Amar took advantage of Hazan’s trust and innocence to
lure him to his death in the Palestinian village of Beit Amin, south of
A number of lessons can be drawn. First, soldiers must strictly
adhere to IDF regulations regarding travel in the West Bank, particularly
against the backdrop of warnings that Palestinian terrorists are making a
special effort to kidnap soldiers. Second, Israeli businesses must not employ
Palestinians who lack work permits.
The murder underlines the steep price
Israel pays for releasing Palestinian terrorists.
In July 2008, PLO
terrorist Samir Kuntar and four Hezbollah terrorists were released along with
the bodies of 199 Hezbollah men in exchange for the bodies of IDF reservests
Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.
In October 2011, the government agreed
to release 1,027 Palestinians, mostly terrorists, incarcerated in Israel jails
in exchange for tank gunner Gilad Schalit, whom Hamas had kidnapped in June
In July of this year, in a more controversial move that this paper
opposed, the government agreed to release more than 100 long-term Palestinian
terrorist convicts in exchange for nothing tangible, just a grudgingly conceded
agreement by the PLO to restart talks after a nearly three-year
The first group of terrorists has already been released and the
next phase will be implemented soon.
Every time Israel agrees to an
unequal prisoner swap, a dangerous dynamic is set in motion. If large numbers of
prisoners are released in exchange for a few kidnapped Israeli soldiers – alive
or dead – Palestinian terrorists such as Amar are encouraged to kidnap, and
kill, more soldiers. Not surprisingly, Israel currently faces a concerted effort
to do just that on the part of Palestinian terrorist groups. Twenty-seven
attempts to abduct soldiers were foiled in the first six months of the year –
twice as many as the same period in 2012.
And when prisoners – including
those “with blood on their hands” – are released before they serve their
sentences, it emboldens Palestinian terrorists such as Amar who rightly gamble
that they too will be released early in a prisoner swap or a “goodwill gesture.”
And they have good reason to be optimistic.
Amna Muna, who was given a
life sentence in 2003 for luring 16-year-old Ofir Rahum to Ramallah, where Fatah
terrorists killed him, was released after serving just eight years in the
Schalit prisoner swap.
Throughout nearly two millennia of exile, the
Jewish people’s high regard for life has been exploited by ransom- seekers. As a
result, Jews developed an extensive rabbinic literature to deal with the moral
and legal issues involved. And there are no clear-cut answers. On one hand,
Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488-1575), in his codex of Jewish law titled the Shulchan
Aruch, rules that redeeming Jewish captives takes precedent over all other
charitable causes. On the other hand, in an act of astounding selflessness,
Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg (1215-1293) issued a ruling from his cell ordering his
students and supporters not to pay the exorbitant ransom demanded by the German
who had kidnapped him. The rabbi knew that if the ransom were paid, there would
be no end to extortion attempts against the Jewish community. Rabbi Meir died in
captivity seven years after he was kidnapped.
There are no easy answers
when deliberating the release of Palestinian prisoners. Hazan’s murder this
weekend is a sad reminder of the risks involved.