Kuntar victim's brother against deal

Supreme Court instructs state to respond to Yoram Shachar's petition against murderer's release.

Kuntar 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
Kuntar 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Supreme Court Deputy President Eliezer Rivlin on Monday gave the state until 10 a.m. Tuesday to respond to a petition filed by the brother of policeman Eliahu Shachar, who was killed in a terrorist attack led by Samir Kuntar, who is due to be released in a prisoner swap next week. The brother, Yoram Shachar, asked the court to order the government to reconsider its agreement to release Kuntar, four other Lebanese prisoners and the bodies of 200 Lebanese and Palestinians in return for Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, who were abducted in a cross-border raid by Hizbullah fighters on July 12, 2006. Shachar told The Jerusalem Post he did not view this as a personal crusade to keep his brother's murderer behind bars, but rather a struggle that was in the interest of all of Israel's citizens. "This isn't supposed to be my personal problem. My personal problem has followed me for thirty years since my brother's murder. But now this problem belongs to all of the people of Israel because of what it will do if Kuntar is released," said Shachar. "Kuntar is going to become even worse than just the right hand of [Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan] Nasrallah," he added. "This isn't just any terrorist. When he is in charge of a new terror organization, we'll say we're sorry that we didn't listen to the Shachar family." Shachar said he had wanted to petition the High Court for a while, but "what prevented me from doing so was the financial effort." Only after the organization Almagor, which advocates for terror victims, offered to come to his aid, he said, was he able to realize his plans. "We think this is an example of the collapse of the justice system, of the government," explained Dr. Aryeh Bachrach of Almagor. Bachrach complained that although one of the conclusions of the Winograd Report on the Second Lebanon War was that the government must draw up a set of organized criteria for the release of hostages, no such criteria had been applied to the current release. Shachar said if he were to talk with the families of kidnapped soldiers Goldwasser and Regev, he would tell them, "Let's unite our pain. My pain is not less than theirs, but we need to confront terror together, and not allow ourselves to be divided." He emphasized, however, that he was completely opposed to the release of terrorists in exchange for bodies. "This isn't a case like Gilad Schalit, where we've been shown signs of life. This is a case where we're going to get coffins in return. If Goldwasser and Regev were definitely alive, we must release them. No soldier should be allowed to be kept hostage outside of Israel's borders. But if I didn't know what was the fate of my son, who is set to enlist soon - I can say this now with confidence - he could stay there, and not be released in exchange for terrorists." Shachar argued that the deal approved by the government further chips away at Israel's deterrent factor against its enemies. "The release today is the kidnapping of tomorrow," he said. "It could happen at the doorway of any house in Israel. Let's stop these concessions. I want a strong government behind me and not a government that screams when it's squeezed a bit."