High Court Rejects Motion to Block Terror Release

Terror victims’ group held on to hope until the last minute, but High Court said it would not prevent terrorists’ release.

Maayana Miskin and Gil Ronen,

Protester holds picture of the Weiss family
Protester holds picture of the Weiss family
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The High Court rejected a motion by the Almagor group for victims of terrorism, to block the release of Arab terrorists from prison that is scheduled to take place Tuesday night.

"Our hearts are with the family members, whose pain is great," wrote the judges, headed by Supreme Court President Asher Grunis. "We are certain that the authorized elements made their decision with a heavy heart and took into account the families' pain and their opinion."

Before the decision, Attorney Naftali Wertzberger, who represents Almagor, said that he believes the release of the 26 terrorists, which the Israeli goverment has described as a “gesture” to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, could still be prevented.

The court had not yet issued a verdict in Almagor’s appeal against the release, which is unusual, he told IDF Radio (Galei Tzahal). “The very fact that the court has not yet issued a decision leaves room for hope,” he explained.

He noted that on Monday it was revealed that the list of terrorists to be freed includes six who were jailed for crimes committed after the Oslo Accords were signed, despite government statements saying only pre-Oslo killers would be freed.

“If the court prevents the release of only those six – it will be small comfort,” he said. The release is scheduled to take place Tuesday.

Almagor’s problem with the planned terrorist release lies elsewhere. “The problem as we see it is moral. There’s a precedent for releasing members of terrorist groups, but not murderers,” Wertzberger explained.

“All these years they’ve said they won’t free people with ‘blood on their hands,’ and now we see them freeing terrorists who murdered people with an axe, who did terrible things, horrific things,” he added.

“The question is a moral one and the explanations calling this a diplomatic matter aren’t relevant here. No country on earth would release people like this, under circumstances like this,” he argued.

He linked the plan to free terrorists to the death Monday of 98-year-old Nazi war crimes suspect Laszlo Csatary. “The Nazi criminal who died did similar things to those who will be freed. There’s a dissonance between chasing down everyone who murdered people and prisoner release,” he said.

Wertzberger’s argument echoed a reaction from Rabbi Eliezer Weiss, whose wife and three young sons were burnt to death in a terrorist attack 22 years ago. The Weiss family’s murderers are expected to go free as part of the prisoner release deal.