'Prison sentences for terrorist won't bring our grandson back'

Grandparents of newborn killed in drive-by shooting terrorist attack call for death penalty for terrorist, tougher counter-terror measures.

Chaim and Liora Silberstein ,

Scene of the Ofra shooting attack
Scene of the Ofra shooting attack
צילום: ענבל ראובני/TPS

Last Wednesday the terrorist, Assam Bargouti was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences by a military court near Jerusalem.

Bargouti, together with his brother, Salach Bargouti carried out a premeditated terror attack on people standing at a bus stop outside the community of Ofra on the 9th of December 2018, the 8th night of Chanukah.

Our daughter Shira, who was seven months pregnant at the time, was critically wounded from the bullets of the Kalashnikov rifle.

Our son-in-law, Amichai who was standing next to her, was moderately wounded in his leg by 3 bullets. Five others were lightly to moderately wounded.

At the hospital, Shira’s life was saved, however the medical team were forced to perform an emergency C-section. Due to the trauma and loss of blood, the baby died after only three days. Shira and Amichai named their baby son Amiad Yisrael – my nation of Israel is forever.

A few days after the attack, the Israeli security forces eliminated the driver Salach Bargouti. The next day his brother, Assam perpetrated a further murderous terror attack at the Givat Assaf junction on the way to Beit El and murdered two soldiers, Yovel Mor-Yosef and Yossi Cohen.

He also critically wounded soldier Netanel Felber in his head and moderately wounded Shira Sabag from Beit El.

A month later the security forces located Assam Bargouti’s hideout and arrested him without resistance. He had been assisted by 29 accomplices while on the run. He informed on them all.

What followed was a legal process over the last 18 months which resulted in the sentencing being handed down on the 24th June 2020. The judges noted that his crimes were among the worst in the law books and were carried out premeditatedly, in cold blood and without compassion.

The court gave him the maximum sentence possible - 3 life sentences for each of the people he murdered and an additional life sentence for the injuring and attempted murder of many others.

The court also granted financial compensation to the families, each just over one million dollars. Unfortunately, this money cannot be collected as Israel has no legal access to the terrorist’s assets and right now there is no law existing to enable Israel to appropriate the funds from the Palestinian Authority.

Media outlets as well as friends and acquaintances asked us what our reaction is.

Together with Shira and Amichai the following is our response:

We are grateful to G-d for sparing our children’s lives in this terror attack through a chain of miracles.

We continue to grieve for the loss of our first grandson Amiad Yisrael and the two soldiers, Yovel Mor-Yosef and Yossi Cohen.

We continue to pray for the full physical and emotional recovery of those injured in the attack.

We commend the IDF and security forces for eliminating Salach Bargouti and capturing the murderer Assam Bargouti and bringing him to justice.

We commend the military court for handing down the maximum sentence requested by the prosecution – four consecutive life sentences. We would have preferred the death sentence which this subhuman terrorist deserves.

We commend the judges for making the rare statement, that due to the excessive cruelty and ideology of hate and his determination to murder as many Jews as possible, they recommend that no party should cut short his sentence (for eg. prisoner exchanges).

No prison sentence will bring our grandson and the two soldiers back, but we hope, at least, that this vile terrorist, as well as all the other terrorist murderers NEVER leave prison alive and are NEVER released in any prisoner exchange.

Our main message to the government and IDF is to increase deterrence in order to minimize, if not prevent future attacks.

Deterrence begins by changing the open fire orders for soldiers and armed citizens so they can more confidently deal with imminent threats.

Other important deterrent steps:

Death sentence for convicted terrorist murderers.

Complete destruction of the homes of terrorists and their families, as well as the accomplices without the option to rebuild.

Expulsion of the families and accomplices from their villages, never to return.

Prevention of ‘pay to slay’ payments by the PA to terrorists and their families. Any amounts paid by the PA to terrorist families must be deducted from the tax payments of the Israeli government to the PA and redirected to terrorist victims and their families.

Reducing the ‘luxury’ conditions of terrorists in Israeli prisons to the bare minimum required by international law.

Not to return bodies of eliminated terrorists

Cancelling national insurance payments to Israeli terrorists’ families

Cancelling the citizenship or residency permits as well as work permits of terrorists and their family members who collaborated in their acts.

For us, the families of the victims of terror, preventing the next terror attack is the best compensation and consolation we can receive.

We sincerely hope that our government as well as the legal system will heed the cries of the victims and their families and work with determination to choose life and prevent the next terror attack – it could be any of us.