The lynch in Ramallah
The lynch in Ramallaharchives

Michal Norzhich said that he and his family feel repeatedly let down by successive Israeli governments at a Knesset event last night to mark 20 years since his brother Vadim Norzhich and Yosef Avrahami were brutally beaten to death by Palestinians in Ramallah, an event that shocked the nation and world.

“(Former Prime Minister) Ehud Barak promised us personally that we will be well looked after but all we received was a slap in the face. The Shalit deal (which released some of his brother’s murderers) was a terribly agreement that hurt us deeply because it returned 1000 terrorists to the cycle of violence,” Norzhich said. “Even today, the government and Supreme Court try and prevent us from seeking financial compensation from the Palestinian Authority, which was and remains responsible for the incitement and hate which leads to such attacks. There is no justice or logic to this.”

Norzhich was speaking at a special meeting of the Knesset Israel Victory Caucus (KIVC) titled “20 Years Since the Ramallah Lynchings: What lessons have been learned?”

MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu), Chairman of the KIVC, said the incitement in the Palestinian Authority has not changed even two decades later. “Violent Palestinian rejectionism is alive and kicking 20 years later, they continue to broadcast the same hate and incitement as they did in the days leading up to the lynchings,” MK Forer said. “Even as we are busy with other challenges, like the Coronavirus, the conflict and the threats from terror do not disappear.”

“We need to understand that conflicts only end when one side wins, and one accepts defeat. This has been true throughout history. We can not continue letting the Palestinian Authority carry on with their hate, rejectionism and incitement and expect that they will give up their war aims against us.”

MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh (Blue and White) also spoke about the contribution of incitement to the lynchings. “On the 20th anniversary to the Ramallah lynchings, it is imperative that we take this moment of remembrance and reminder to honor those brutally murdered and to take action in order to ensure such incidents never occur again,” MK Cotler-Wunsh said. “For that to happen, we must stop incitement, hold those engaged in it to account and expose double standards of those who enable and empower it.”

The KIVC event was held online with around 900 viewers watching across various platforms, in partnership with the Israel Victory Project, an initiative of the Middle East Forum.

“Like many other Israelis, the Ramallah lynchings became a defining moment for me because it came shortly after Barak offered the Palestinian leaders overly generous terms for peace in 2000, and the vicious beating to death of our soldiers who had mistakenly entered Ramallah was their answer to Israel’s concessions and compromise,” Nave Dromi, CEO of the Middle East Forum Israel Office said. “This chilling event demonstrated the need to defeat Palestinian violent rejectionism because it remains the greatest obstacle to ending the conflict and peace. Only an Israel victory will ensure that.”

Maurice Hirsch, the Head of Legal Strategies for Palestinian Media Watch, who served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps, including during the trials of some of the perpetrators of the lynchings was damning in his address to the Knesset event.

"A direct result of the lack of a strong Israeli response after the lynchings was that the Palestinians understood that they can do whatever they want. Even today, the current gov doesn't want to win, to defeat terror,” Hirsch said, referring specifically to the funds that the Israeli Government continues to transfer to the Palestinian Authority, despite a law which demands a deduction of funds that the PA distributes to terrorists and their families in the “Pay for Slay” program. “I once spoke to a lawyer who represents Palestinian terrorists who could not believe Israel continues to provide funding with the full knowledge that it contributes to terrorism. He told me that if Israel stopped the payments, we would stop at least 50% of the terror attacks.”

Also speaking at the event was Avi Guez, Attorney and Coordinator of Government relations at Shurat HaDin, who is representing the Norzhich family and many other victims of terrorism in filing claims against the Palestinian Authority. “We believe that the legal route is very important to stop terror. The strongest message we need to send is that the shedding of Jewish blood and the blood of any innocent draws a heavy price, even after 20 years,” Guez said.

Former IDF brigade commander and deputy division commander Yehuda Wagman, a member of the "Commanders Victory Forum" said that the problem with Israel’s response, especially military, extends to today. “There is confusion in the upper ranks of the IDF. It has no concept towards reaching victory but rather sees itself as part of the diplomatic process,” Wagman said. “Diplomatic processes and reaching understandings are not how you end conflicts.”