Bereaved families boycott ceremony

49 relatives of terror victims protest against release of Palestinian prisoners.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Benzion Ben-Shoham has not sat in a cafe or rode a bus since his younger sister Limor, 27, was killed in a terror attack five years ago. "Other people can hug their siblings; I have no one to hug, just a photo and stone," said Ben-Shoham. Five years ago, on a Saturday night in March, Ben-Shoham had a premonition that Limor was in danger as she sat at one of her favorite Jerusalem hangouts, Caf Moment. He called and asked her to leave and then fell asleep. When he woke half an hour later, a suicide bomber had already exploded himself inside the crowded caf , killing 11 people, including Limor. Ben-Shoham is determined to insure that no other family experiences the kind of pain that has wracked his life since that night. To protest the proposed release of Palestinian security prisoners, he joined 49 bereaved families in boycotting the national ceremony for terror victims held Monday at Mount Herzl. Although the government has not agreed to release Palestinian terrorists in exchange for kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Schalit, Ben-Shoham said he feared it was only a matter of time before such a deal was brokered. "We feel that they are going to do it," he said. While he sympathizes with the Schalit family, he weighed that sympathy against the sorrow that was sure to befall additional Israeli families when the released prisoners execute new terror attacks, Ben-Shoham said. He pointed to a recent study by the Almagor Terror Victims Association, which showed that in the last five years at least 177 Israelis were killed by Palestinians freed from prison. "These are not prisoners, they are murderers," Ben-Shoham said, adding that such inmates were emboldened by the belief that they would be freed under exchange deals. By boycotting the Mount Herzl ceremony, Ben-Shoham said he hoped to send the message that enough was enough. "I do not want to see any more new bereaved families. There are too many already." Instead, he and his family attended a number of private ceremonies to honor his sister. "We live with this pain all the time, and we do not want to see any one else go through it." Almagor's director, Meir Indor, who has also protested any potential prisoner release, said that not everyone in his organization had planned to boycott the ceremony. For some families the national ceremony is very important, said Indor, who planned to attend. Opinions are divided among Almagor members, he added, but the organization supports people on both sides of the argument.