Israel’s Prisoner Release: Terrorism Shouldn’t Pay
When he was 16 years old, Samir Kuntar brutally murdered a family of four Israelis in Nahariya on April 22, 1979. The youngest person killed was Einat, a four year old, whose skull he crushed against a rock. In 2008, Kuntar was released in a prisoner swap with Hezbollah, which Hezbollah saw as a sign of Israeli weakness. Yet now, not learning the lessons of the past, Israel has said it will release more high profile Palestinian prisoners, which could include guilty terrorists like Kuntar who have killed civilians in cold blood. This is supposed to help the peace process. In fact, it will do exactly the opposite by empowering the extremists and weakening the moderates.
As someone who strongly supports the peace process, I sincerely believe that it will not be helped by releasing terrorists with blood on their hands. Terrorists from groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad have said they are are committed to destroying the peace process and obliterating Israel. These are not empty words.
This was bought home to me when my grandmother, who lives in Netanya, told me about the scene after a terrorist attack in March 2002, which killed scores of Israeli civilians. The attack turned Netanya, a beautiful seaside town, into an orgy of blood, bones and dead bodies. It was clear that this terrorist didn’t want peace with Israel based on the two state solution. Instead, he wanted the death of as many innocent Israeli civilians as possible to hasten Israel’s destruction.
Furthermore, releasing murderers and terrorists sends a message that terrorism pays. It will only encourage more terrorism.
Instead, Israel needs to be sending a message that they are willing to negotiate, but not by freeing those who would harm the peace process, or do not want peace to begin with. Talks should be based on peace – not hostage negotiations where, in return for talks, Israel frees those who seek to destroy it.
If Israel does not change its plan to release high profile prisoners, it will effectively be signing its own suicide note.
Furthermore, releasing terrorists is not in the Palestinian people’s interests either. More than 60 percent of Palestinians, as shown in many polls, support the two state solution. Giving power to those who prefer terror to peace undermines the chances of peace most Palestinians fervently want.
I call on the Israeli Government to think again. If it truly wants to show it supports the peace process, it should not be releasing murderers who will do all they can to undermine peace negotiations. If Israel releases the terrorists, they will be dishonouring the memories of all those, including the four yearold killed by Samir Kuntar, who have paid the ultimate price due to terrorism.
Stephen Hoffman is a graduate of the University of Leeds where he studied Politics and Parliamentary Studies. He is involved in Israel advocacy, but is writing in a personal capacity.