Sbarro Orphans: Israel Betrayed Us

While media celebrates Shalit return, devastated Schijveschuurder family struggles. “I feel like I’ve been through a second bombing."

Maayana Miskin ,

Terror attack in Sbarro
Terror attack in Sbarro
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Last Tuesday, the country watched in suspense as kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit returned home for the first time in more than five years. Cameras rolled as a weary-looking Shalit hugged his parents while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who signed off on the deal for his release, smiled in the background.

The Schijveschuurder family, however, avoided watching the long-awaited return. The surviving members of the family say they could not stand watching the joy at Shalit’s release while knowing the heavy price that had been paid – the release from prison of more than 1,000 terrorists, including one of those who murdered their parents and siblings.

“I feel like I’ve been through a second bombing,” Leah Schijveschuurder told Arutz Sheva this week. “When I heard about the deal, I felt like my parents died again. Emotionally, I feel like I stepped back ten years.”

Leah was 10 years old when her mother, father, older sister Ra’aya (14) and young brother and sister Avraham Tzvi (4) and Hemda (1.5) were murdered in the bombing of the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem. She and her sister Chaya were wounded in the attack.

Ahlam Tamimi, who helped to plan and carry out the attack, was one of those released in exchange for Shalit. She has repeatedly said that she is proud of her role in the murders, and continues to support terrorism.

“I don’t want to be a part of this country,” Leah said. “I plan to cancel my Israeli citizenship. The state of Israel betrayed me, personally, after promising that my family’s murderer would sit in prison.”

'They Sold Gilad'
“I feel horror at being a part of this place. People are dancing on the blood of the dead, not just my parents and my siblings, but all those who died for the people of Israel,” she said. “What especially hurts is seeing that they fooled the nation, that there was never any issue of an immediate threat to [Gilad’s] life… They sold Gilad Shalit like a car. They took the people of Israel’s innocence and used their goodwill for the campaign. Netanyahu’s only thought with this deal was self-promotion.”

She had harsh words for Gilad Shalit’s parents as well. “They don’t really care about people. They brought their child home at the expense of an innocent public and it didn’t bother them,” she accused.

She spoke of facing Noam Shalit in court last week. “He sat there for four and a half hours, and he and Aviva didn’t care for one second what we were going through. Noam and Aviva fought for their son; we made ourselves vulnerable and fought for the good of the people of Israel,” she said. Leah’s brother Shuvel confronted Noam Shalit in court.

“We didn’t think of ourselves, only of the people of Israel,” Leah continued. “In the end, [Israel] will realize too late that we were right.”

Many Plans, Uncertain Future
In media interviews last week, Leah’s older brother Meir said the family plans to leave the country for Holland, where parents Mordechai and Tzira were born and raised. However, Leah told Arutz Sheva the plans are not yet clear.

“We’re considering leaving Israel, we haven’t decided yet,” she clarified. “Right now we’re in the aftermath, it’s a type of exhaustion, we’re trying to digest what happened to us in the past week and a half.”

Leah clarified that she has no intention of giving up. “I have work to do, now that the state has failed to protect us. I have some plans to carry out, but I can’t talk about them,” she declared.

She takes comfort in knowing that her parents died sanctifying G-d’s name, she said, and in the company of fellow young adults who have lost part of their family to terrorism. “I met them when I was ten. Now we laugh about how we’ve known each other longer than our parents knew us,” she said.