Olmert to Release Two Arab Murderers

The list of 199 Arab terrorists - including 2 killers - to be freed as a gesture to Fatah has been publicized by the Israel Prison Service.

Hillel Fendel,

Murderers and other terrorists to be freed
Murderers and other terrorists to be freed

The list of 199 Arab terrorists who are slated to be freed in the coming days as a gesture to Fatah was publicized on Monday afternoon.  The Israel Prisons Service list includes the murderers of Yehoshua Saloma and Tzila Galili.  The Almagor Terror Victims Association promises to sue in the Supreme Court against the release.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided on the release several days ago, and the decision was approved in the Cabinet on Sunday.  Only Minister Sha'ul Mofaz (Kadima) and the four Shas Party ministers voted against the move.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter (Kadima), who voted on Sunday for the release, voted on Monday in the relevant special Ministerial Committee against releasing the two murderers. 

Spokesman Explains: Long Sentence, Low Risk
The Cabinet spokesman explained that the list of 199 terrorists was determined "in accordance with the criteria set by previous government decisions, namely, no release of those prisoners with blood on their hands belonging to Hamas or Palestinian Jihad."  He added, however, that the two murderers were released as an "exception to the criterion of 'no blood on their hands' as a gesture to Palestinian Authority chief [Mahmoud Abbas] in consideration of the long sentence they have served and the opinion of the security forces that the risk resulting from their release is low."

Various Types of Attempted Murder
Among those to be freed are 26 who were convicted of attempted murder, and 47 others convicted of "shooting at people."  Other convictions include kidnapping, kidnapping for the purpose of murder, planting bombs, and the like.

Some 25 of the terrorists to be released were sentenced to terms ranging from 10 to 16 years, indicating the severity of their crimes. 

The two murderers to be freed are Ibrahim Mahmoud Mahmad and Said Atbari.  Mahmad, arrested in 1980, murdered a yeshiva student/army soldier named Yehoshua Saloma in Hevron the same year; Saloma had made Aliyah without his family from Scandinavia. Mahmad committed his second murder in jail when he slashed the throat of a fellow Arab prisoner he suspected of collaborating with Israel.

Atbari, in jail since 1977, planted bombs in several places, including one in an outdoor market in Petach Tikvah that killed Tzila Galili.  Galili's son Zinovi Kaplan is a violinist in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.  "Those who elected such a government shouldn't be surprised that terrorists are being freed," Zinovi said upon learning that his mother's killer was to be released.

Indor: We Will Sue, Gather Info, and Remind the Public Who Released Whom
Meir Indor of the Almagor Terror Victims Association told Israel National News, "First of all, we plan to file a suit with the Supreme Court against this scandalous decision.  We do not expect to win, but we have been told by people high up in the system that if it were not for our protests and petitions to the Supreme Court, many more terrorists, guilty of very serious crimes, would have been freed..."

"We plan to take the law into our hands, in the positive sense of the phrase," Indor said. "We have had bitter experience with the 180 victims of terrorism who have been killed by terrorists freed in one exchange or another.  We will gather information on every single convicted terrorist, find out which jail they are in and which luxuries they receive in prison, and we will be in contact with the families of those they have murdered, and we will thus keep this matter in the public awareness.  The Prison Service people, and those in the General Security Service, support us, because they are sick and tired of these releases; the GSS works hard to arrest them, and then they are freed just like that..."

"To accomplish this, by the way, we need volunteers, who will be willing to go to the Justice Ministry and ferret out the information, with our guidance.  Those interested should call 02-538-8999."

Remembering Shas
Indor said that his group will also make sure the public does not forget which Cabinet ministers voted for the release: "Especially Shas - they make all sorts of protests, and vote against, but they remain in the government and refuse to bring it down, because they think that getting money for their Torah schools justifies all. I debated a Shas official on the radio; I told him that I had always learned that when it comes to pikuach nefesh, life-threatening situations, one must close his Talmud and take action."

Hamas and the Release
Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim explained that the release of the Fatah terrorists will pressure Hamas to release kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit faster: "Hamas is under pressure," Boim said, "because it sees the Fatah prisoners going free, while its members are still in prison. This will encourage them to come to a deal with us for Shalit."

Indor ridiculed this claim: "The name of the game is prestige. When Hamas sees 200 Fatah prisoners being let out for free, it will make sure to get many more of its own prisoners, so that its people will see that it can do better than Fatah.  And Prime Minister Olmert - this is all a lowdown tactic of his so that later, when he releases more murderers for Shalit, he'll be able to say, 'We have already released two murderers for free, or for dead bodies [Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser] - but now we're releasing murderers and receiving a live soldier in exchange.'  It is a disgusting trick, and places every Israeli citizen in danger."