Many Israelis who have lost loved ones to terrorism have spoken out recently on the possibility of a mass terrorist release in exchange for the return of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. While some have publicly said they would let their loved ones' killers go free in exchange for Shalit, others have taken a strong stance against terrorist release.
Photo: Almagor Terror Victims Assoc.
Earlier this week Yael Ze'evi, whose husband Rehavam (Gandhi) Ze'evi was assassinated by terrorists in 2001, announced that she would be willing to see her husband's killers go free if it meant Shalit's safe return. She was joined by 100 other bereaved families, who signed a letter to Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in which they expressed willingness to see their own family members' murderers go free for Shalit.
Another widow who spoke out in favor of prisoner release was Rachel Koren, whose husband and two teenage sons were murdered in the bombing of the Matza restaurant in Haifa. “I can't live with the knowledge that there's a boy rotting in prison on my conscience,” she explained. “They should release whoever they have to release in order to bring him back home.”
Other families, and representatives of terrorist victims, have taken a strong stance against terrorist release. “I'm in touch with many families, and this support [for terrorist release] is likely to provoke rebellion,” warned Ze'ev Rap, whose 15-year-old daughter Helena was stabbed to death by a terrorist in 1992. “Whoever supports this process doesn't understand the suffering they're causing us,” he added.
"If they release my daughter's murderer, they'll destroy my family and the families of others,” Rap continued. He threatened to take the law into his own hands in such a case, saying, “I'll murder him before he leaves our borders, at the border fence. I'll die with the Philistines.”
Efraim Kastiel made a simple plea against release, saying, “My heart hurts for Gilad Shalit but I just can't handle it from a psychological standpoint. My heart won't allow it, I just can't.” Kastiel's daughter Liat was one of two young women stabbed to death by terrorists in Wadi Kelt in 1997.
Rachel Friedman lost her sister and niece, Lily and Tamara Shimashvili, in the 2001 bombing of the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem. “I think our army is strong enough to find a different way to release Gilad Shalit, and not by releasing murderers,” she said.
Stanley Boim's 17-year-old son David was murdered nine years ago in a terrorist shooting near the town of Beit El. Boim, who opposes terrorist release, explained that he was not motivated by a desire for revenge, but rather by a desire to protect others. “The release of killers means the murder of more Jews in the Land of Israel,” he said.
One of David Boim's killers was not caught after the murder, and later carried out an attack in downtown Jerusalem in which several people were killed.
Like Friedman, Boim believes Israel can free Shalit without releasing terrorists. “We need to do everything possible to free Shalit, but via pressure on Hamas and not on our government,” he stated.
Protests For Shalit, Against Release
As Olmert's term comes to an end, protests for Shalit's release have picked up steam. Demonstrations calling for Shalit's release have been held in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem this week, and Friends of Shalit began a steady presence outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Friday.
Three bereaved fathers protested the protest, standing opposite a Shalit rally in Tel Aviv and rejecting calls to release terrorists. The fathers, Yossi Mendelovich, Dov Weinstein and Zion Swery, said they would gather more bereaved parents to join them in rallying opposite demonstrations in support of terrorist release.