While I am in favour of the deal to free Gilad Shalit, I am not terribly whole-heartedabout it. If I had been asked about it in advance I don’t think I would have supported it – in fact I blogged about thissome months ago and replied in the comments that I was in favour only of a one-to-one deal. However, with this deal being presented as a fait accompli, and having read some of the security analyses, I think (and hope and pray) that the government knows what it’s doing and that they will be able to cope with the aftermath.
All this does not detract from the fact that the list of terrorists to be released is absolutely terrifying.
The list contains includes Walid Anajas, who was convicted for his involvement in the bombing of the Moment Cafe in Jerusalem in 2002. Twelve civilians were murdered and 54 injured in the attack.
Also on the list is Nasser Yataima, convicted of planning the 2002 Passover Seder suicide-bomb attack on the Park Hotel in Netanya, in which 30 civilians were killed and 140 were wounded.
In case anyone has forgotten, that bombing was more or less the final straw for then-PM Ariel Sharon, who shortly afterwards launched Operation Defensive Shield, that much maligned (by foreign governments and the international media) but so successful anti-terrorist war which eventually brought the intifada to a halt.
Chris al-Bandak, the only known Christian member of the Fatah Tanzim terror group, is also included. He was convicted of several shooting attacks which claimed the lives of two Israelis and seriously injured a third in 2002.
Musab Hashlemon, of Hebron, sentenced to 17 life sentences for dispatching two suicide bombers to Beersheba, will be released. Sixteen civilians were murdered when the bombers detonated themselves on two buses in central Beersheba in 2004.
Hashlemon was released in the previous prisoner exchange deal for Elhanan Tenenbaum, when Hashlemon was a minor Hamas operative, according to Maariv. He will be deported to Gaza.
Elchanan Tannenbaum was a crooked drug-dealing businessman who was lured into his own kidnap by Hezbollah, and exchanged in the above-mentioned prisoner exchange. There was much more antagonism in Israel to his exchange deal than to Shalit’s because he brought his own troubles upon himself, and wasn’t even acting within the law, let alone for the good of the country. But his exchange gives me the basis to support the Shalit deal: if we could exchange terrorists for a crook, how can we not exchange terrorists for an abducted soldier?
Ibrahim Jundiya, sentenced to 12 life sentences for dispatching a suicide bomber to a Jerusalem bus in 2002, will also be deported to Gaza. Eleven bus passengers were murdered in the bombing which occurred in Jerusalem’s Kiryat Menahem neighborhood.
Fadi Muhammad al-Jabaa, sentenced to 18 life sentences for plotting the suicide bomb attack on a Haifa bus in 2003, in which 17 passengers were murdered, will be released and deported to Gaza. The list includes Maedh Abu Sharakh, also convicted of plotting the Haifa bus bombing.
Mazen Muhammad Faqha, who plotted the 2002 suicide bus bombing near Safed, in which nine passengers were murdered and forty injured, will also be released and deported to Gaza.
Tamimi Ahlam, the Palestinian female Hamas terrorist convicted of aiding and abetting the suicide bomber who murdered 15 civilians and injured 140 in the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria bombing in the capital will be deported to her native Jordan.
Frimet Roth, the mother of one of the victims of the Sbarro massacre blogs at This Ongoing War. She has put up a petition against the release of Tamimi Ahlam which she asks people to sign (I added my own name). You can find the petition here.
Another soon-to-be released prisoner is Abd al-Aziz Salaha, who in 2001 took part in the murder of two IDF soldiers who mistakenly drove into Ramallah.
Salaha was caught on camera holding out hands covered in blood after beating one of the soldiers to death. He held his hands out of a Ramallah police station where the soldiers were killed, to a frenzied Palestinian crowd that gathered outside.
If you can’t remember what that was all about, here’s a reminder, graphic picture included.
However not all Israeli victims of terror are against the deal, hence my my ambivalence. One of the other voices is that of Esther Wachsman, whose son Nachshon was kidnapped by Hamas in 1994 and held hostage for a week, before being killed by the terrorists in an abortive rescue attempt by the IDF in which another IDF soldier lost his life too. Mrs. Wachsman is uniquely placed to express her opinion since the killer of her son too is going to be released:
“I realize this is a dilemma and it is very frightening for those who have been victims of terror but I was there when news of the deal reached the family and at that point nothing else mattered except for him to be brought home safely.”
Even as more details about the deal became public, and information reached the Wachsmans that the man who murdered their son is among those to be released, she said her feelings towards the Schalits and their happiness have not changed.
“It was not a shock or any big news that this man was going to be released,” said Wachsman, her voice clearly weary. “At least he cannot go home and he must go and live abroad.”
The next couple of days are going to be filled with lawsuits, protests and petitions by victims of Palestinian terrorism and the victims’ supporters. It’s going to be a roller-coaster of emotion for all of Israel, but especially for the terror victims and the Shalit family.