Protesters march to released terrorist’s Jerusalem home to express outrage

"This is not about politics, it’s a matter of our lives," says demonstrator. "Have Jews not shed enough blood?"

Bereaved families protest prisoner release. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Bereaved families protest prisoner release.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Amid a heavy downpour and a cacophony of shouts condemning Binyamin Netanyahu, the US and 26 terrorists due to be freed in another few hours, some 250 protesters marched Monday night from the Prime Minister’s Residence to the home of one of the terrorists.
Cries of “Shame on you!” “Don’t release the murderers!” “Death to terrorists!” “Revenge!” and “Free Jonathan Pollard!” accompanied the slow procession of men, women and children as they made their way down Jerusalem’s Agron Street accompanied by dozens of police officers armed with assault rifles.
Traffic came to a halt as the march paused at the US Consulate to decry US Secretary of State John Kerry.
“Release terrorists in your own country!” shouted one man. “You have no right to put our people in danger!” exclaimed another.
Although the vitriol was initially directed at Netanyahu’s gated residence, numerous protesters emphasized that their rage was primarily directed at Kerry and US President Barack Obama.
“At the end of the day the release of these terrorists is a result of the pressure being imposed on Israel by Obama and Kerry,” said Jonathan Benedek as he stood under an umbrella beside his mother. “I don’t believe that any prime minister in his right mind would willingly release these terrorists or believe this is a good thing for Israel strategically.
That’s why it’s incumbent on Israeli society to understand and recognize that it’s not Netanyahu releasing them; it’s Kerry and Obama.”
While Benedek conceded that the prime minister’s acquiescence to US pressure did not absolve Netanyahu from responsibility for the release, he asked that Israelis denounce the US government instead of attacking Israel’s leadership.
“We should be venting our anger at Obama and Kerry, not Netanyahu,” he said.
Benedek’s mother, Carol, a US citizen visiting her son from Maryland, derided the US government as well.
“I’d like John Kerry to release terrorists who killed Americans,” she said. “It’s do as I say, not as I do.”
The march, organized by Meir Indor, chairman of the Almagor terror victims association, started hours after the High Court of Justice rejected a petition from the organization not to let the terrorists go.
“People convicted of murdering women, children and babies are being freed for nothing?” asked Tzvia Vodda rhetorically as the procession reached the Old City. “What? Is Jewish blood cheap? Have we not shed enough of it?” Vodda’s friend, Shoshanah Osterbach, said no peace deal was worth releasing convicted killers.
“It’s a disgrace that the Israeli government even considered the idea of releasing murderers,” she said. “There is no excuse for releasing murderers ever! This is not politics. It’s a matter of our lives.”
Osterbach went on.
“In America, have they ever done something like this? Who gives them the right to tell us what to do? We live here, not them!” Upon approaching the Old City home of Khalef Juma’a Mustafa Ahmad, police allowed only 15 of the demonstrators to come within 10 meters.
“When we have the next Israeli victim, the High Court judges will not be able to say their hands did not shed this blood,” said Indor. “Shame on the Israeli government!” Rabbi Yehuda Ben-Yishai, the father of Ruth Fogel, who was brutally murdered in her settlement home along with her husband and three children in the 2011 attack that has come to be known as the “Itamar Massacre,” was among the 15 allowed near Ahmad’s residence.
“This is a black day for the Israeli nation,” said the bereaved father. “We should turn this date into a day of mourning and fasting. They are celebrating now while we are in pain and agony.”
Indeed, Palestinian fireworks could be heard in the distance, while Ahmad’s home was strewn with colorful lights.
“Look at these lights,” said one woman. “These are not Christmas lights – they’re lights to celebrate the release of a terrorist!” Appalled by the fireworks and lights, Lizi Hameiri, another protester permitted near the home, scolded Ahmad’s mother.
“You are celebrating your son, but you have nothing to be proud of!” shouted Hameiri.
“You raised a cold-blooded murderer! What did you nourish him with as a child? Hatred and death? Shame on you!” Despite the rage surrounding the protest, 12-year-old Zev Moore, who made aliya with his family from New Jersey last summer, said he was still proud to be an Israeli citizen and expressed both pride and hope.
“Israel will never give up no matter what,” he said. “We will always be strong.”