Gidon Levy to Meet Families of Jewish Prisoners

Radical left-wing journalist invited to meeting after comments he made urging release of jailed Israeli-Arab terrorists.

Ari Soffer,

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
Flash 90

A curious meeting is set for today, as Haaretz journalist Gidon Levy has agreed to meet with the families of four Jews convicted for attacks - or attempted attacks - on Arabs during the "second intifada."

The arrangement came after Levi published an article in which he called on the Israeli government to free Israeli Arab terrorists, in addition to the 104 Palestinian Authority Arab terrorists which are set to be released as as "goodwill gesture" to the PA.

The meeting is set to take place today (Thursday), between Levy and the families of Ami Popper, Shahar Botbika, Ofer Gamliel, and Shahar Dvir-Zeliger.

"They contacted me and ask to speak with me," said Levi, adding that he was glad to accept the invitation.

"If someone asks me, I respond," he added.

In his article at the start of August, Levy wrote that: "I long to see [convicted terrorists - ed.] Karim and Maher Younis, Walid Daka and all the 14 other Arab-Israeli prisoners who have been incarcerated since before the Oslo Accords get out of jail...".

Alluding to PM Netanyahu's comments that the release of terrorists would be a "tough day" for the families of their victims, Gidon added that their release would be "not just a difficult day, but also a day of celebration."

In a surprising statement for a man associated with the radical-left who has consistently campaigned against consecutive Israeli governments, Levy insisted that in spite of the pain such a release would cause to the victims' families, "it's the state... that makes the call."

In response to the article the families of Jewish security prisoners contacted him, via the legal rights group Honenu, as part of their campaign to include Jewish prisoners in any such deal.

Ami Popper was jailed for the 1990 murder of 7 Palestinian Authority workers. He was jailed for life but his sentence was eventually commuted to 40 years. Shahar Botbika was jailed for 8.5 years after being accused of participation in an incident in which a PA Arab youth was thrown to his death from a moving jeep after being arrested. Ofer Gamliel and Shahar Dvir-Zeliger were jailed in 2003 for 15 and 8 years respectively, for their involvement in the "Bay Ayin Cell," which was planning attacks against Arab civilians in "revenge" for continued Arab terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians.

Their families have been campaigning for their release, claiming that the release of Arab terrorists responsible for mass-murders of Jews, should be "balanced out" by the release of their loved ones - many of whom were jailed for lesser crimes.