One of the Israelis who protested Monday when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke at a memorial service for fallen soldiers and terror victims at Jerusalem's Har Herzl military cemetery, Rami Cohen, told Arutz Sheva that he was protesting Netanyahu's plan to release terrorists.
Cohen, along with about a dozen other attendees, protested as Netanyahu got up to speak at the memorial event. The group staged a highly unusual protest, standing up and leaving the site while holding up red flags. Cohen shouted at Netanyahu, criticizing his release of the terrorists.
“The Prime Minister is planning to release terrorists, and I decided to protest,” Cohen said. “We have had enough of these 'gestures,' we have had enough of concessions. Too many terrorists have been released with Israel getting nothing in return.”
Israel decided not to release a group of 26 terrorists that were to have been sent back to Palestinian Authority-controlled areas. Israel last summer agreed to release 104 terrorist prisoners as a "gesture" to the Palestinian Authority and a precondition for resumption of the peace talks being shephereded by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. So far, 78 have been released. The final batch had been due for release on Friday, March 28, but the government cancelled that release after Abbas placed a bid for the PA to be recognized as a state in 15 United Nations agencies, in breach of conditions of the talks.
“My heart has been very heavy,” Cohen said. “I was unable to remain quiet. Some people chose to get up and leave, but this was my way to protest.” Referring to the murder of 20 year-old Shelly Dadon, who police believe was killed in a terror attack, Cohen said that “just three days ago a girl was killed just for being Jewish. These things drive me crazy.” Cohen said that he himself had been attacked by terrorists 14 years ago, when an Arab passenger in his taxi injured him with multiple stab wounds.
Several victims of terrorism and their families had urged government officials – including the Prime Minister - who had voted in favor of the terrorist releases, to avoid the commemorations. Bereaved parents Ron Kerman and Yossi Zur drafted a letter to Netanyahu, calling on him not to speak at the ceremony.
"Please save us and other families of the victims of terror from your speech this year [on Memorial Day]," the letter reads. "Please do not come to the ceremony on Har Herzl and please do not speak."