Ya'alon: Terrorist Release Decision Taken 'With a Heavy Heart'
During a tour of Israel's northern border, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe "Bogie" Ya'alon related to the imminent decision to release 26 terrorists, many of whom are responsible for the murder of Israeli civilians, saying that it was done with a "heavy heart."
"The decision to release these terrorists is a difficult one for all members of the government, and to me personally," he stated, as "I myself captured some of them during my time as commander of (the IDF's) Judea and Samaria Division."
Expressing sympathy for the victims' families he continued, "My heart is with the families, and I do not envy their position. However there are many other considerations standing before the Israeli government as well. We took the decision to free them with a heavy heart."
Yet in a comment that is bound to compound the frustration of those very families with whom Ya'alon expressed his sympathy, the Defense Minister said that he was not optimistic that their release would lead to a meaningful peace agreement.
"Do I believe that the release of terrorists will honestly lead to a breakthrough in peace talks? We'll wait and see."
"We have committed ourselves to 9 months [of talks - ed.] to reach an agreement with the Palestinians," he said, but continued by expressing his skepticism, pointing out that such talks have not been fruitful before.
"We have been trying already for 20 years since Oslo, and 120 years since the start of the conflict itself," he pointed out, adding that it is easy to see why people are skeptical.
"But we chose to give it a chance," he added.
Ya'alon also related to last night's rocket fire on the southern tourist resort city of Eilat by Sinai-based terrorists. He said that it was clear that terrorist groups in the Sinai Peninsula were able and willing to launch such attacks in the future, but maintained that the army was doing everything possible to protect Israel's southern border.
Ya'alon urged residents and tourists in Eilat not to change their daily routine, noting the presence of the "Iron Rome" missile defense system, which succeeded in intercepting the rockets fired last night.
"Victory for terrorism"
Meanwhile, victims of terrorism and their families have reacted with anger and despair to the High Court decision to reject its motion against the release of the first "batch" of 26 terrorist murderers, to be released as a “gesture” to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Following the court decision, protesters have blocked access roads leading to and from Ofer Prison, in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the release of terrorist murderers.
Meir Indor, chairman of Almagor, an organization that represents victims of Arab terrorism, accused the courts and government of simply ignoring the appeals against the release and not even bothering to relate to them properly.
"We regret very much that the court, like the prime minister, did not even listen to the serious arguments regarding the government's crossing of red lines, including the fact that some of the terrorists being released committed their crimes after the Oslo accords were signed," he said
"The Supreme Court locked its gates today before the bereaved families and the Jewish terror victims – something it does not do when it comes to any Palestinians,” Indor added – noting, among other past decisions by the High Court, its willingness to force the state to change the route of the security fence, at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, because of complaints by Arabs.
"The High Court has, in effect, erased the status of the victims and has given its protection to the men of terror, who will be able to demand the release of murderers from now on,” he went on. “This is a very sad day for the bereaved families and Israeli society, and a day of victory for the terror organizations and their supporters.”