Anti-Shalit Deal Protest Aired

Protesters against the Shalit deal warned that release of terrorists will unleash a new terror wave. In unusual move, media covers demonstration.

Gil Ronen, | updated: 20:03

Almagor Chairman Lt.-Col. (res.) Meir Indor
Almagor Chairman Lt.-Col. (res.) Meir Indor
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Hundreds of demonstrators took part in a weekend demonstration outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, demanding that the government hold fast and not give in to exorbitant terrorist demands in return for the freedom of IDF soldier-hostage Gilad Shalit.

The demonstrators included members of bereaved families, IDF reserve officers and concerned citizens.

Protesters against the proposed deal to free up to 1,000 Hamas terrorists in return for Sgt. Shalit succeeded in receiving media coverage of their protests Thursday, after years in which the media virtually boycotted them. Most of the popular television channels and internet news sites gave their protest front-page coverage, releasing an apparent torrent of public support -- and relief that the opinion was finally being reported -- through the reader “talkbacks.”

The protesters are bereaved fathers who lost their sons and daughters in terror attacks or in IDF counter-terror operations, and belong to the Almagor Terror Victims Organization.

Bereaved fathers Yossi Tzur (left) and Yossi Mendelovich, Thursday / Israel news photo: Flash 90

Release is 'Immoral'
One protester, Yossi Mendelevich, lost his 13-year-old son Yuval in a terror bus bombing in Haifa in 2003. “It appears that the release of the tape [of Shalit] over the [last] weekend in return for some 'near murderesses' was just a spin intended to test the public's will,” he said. “Our feeling is that [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu is going forward [with the deal for Shalit]. That is why we came out with this campaign, in order to prevent the next strategic disaster. The previous one was in the Intifada of 2000 to 2005, when we lost our children. The next terror wave can be expected after such a large number of terrorists is released.” 

Lt.-Col. Dan Sion said that releasing terrorists convicted of murder is “immoral towards the families, and immoral towards the victims who will be murdered later on.” Released murderers will go back to killing people, he warned, making reference to previous deals with Lebanon-based terrorist groups: “Terrorists freed in the Tenenbaum deal have been responsible for the killings of 23 Israelis since then. Hundreds of others have been murdered by terrorists who were freed in the Jibril deal.”

Three Years of Silencing
For over three years, ever since Sgt. Gilad Shalit was captured by Hamas and related terror groups, Israeli news outlets have covered the exceedingly well-organized protests in favor of releasing Shalit “at any price” – a term which usually refers to the release of terrorist prisoners, including convicted killers. The opinions of Israeli citizens who oppose the release of Muslim murderers for Shalit has largely been ignored in the mass media coverage.

The coverage appeared to release a torrent of public opinion that had previously been silenced. The news items covering the protest received hundreds of reader talkbacks which were overwhelmingly in favor of their stand and which repeatedly complained that the media had been silencing this position. It should be noted, however, that reader talkbacks are not considered to be reliable for gauging public opinion because of the ease with which they can be manipulated.

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