By Aryeh Savir
Tazpit News Agency
Under the banner “Shame on You!”, bereaved families and supporters continued to demonstrate today (Dec. 29) against the pending release of 26 Palestinian terrorists as part of Israel’s negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. The 26 comprise the third group to be released as a good will gesture to the PA by the Israeli Government. All prisoners committed their crimes before the Oslo Accords and have served sentences of 19-28 years.
Ortal Tamam, niece of Moshe Tamam, a soldier who was kidnapped and murdered in 1984, told Tazpit News Agency what their battle was about: “In a country in which the High Court of Justice does not rule justly the citizens are forced to fight for justice. This is a depressing reality. The supporters who come here keep on repeating the same concept – the government’s actions are lunacy! There are no other words.” She further expressed dismay about the fact that four of the released terrorists have Israeli citizenship. This stands in contrast to a government decision not to release terrorists with Israeli citizenship as part of gesture towards the PA. “Murderers will be released and will return to Jerusalem, enjoying the life right where they committed their crimes; they might even bump into their victims’ families. We will not allow this to happen and do all we can to stop this, even go on a hunger strike.” Only one Knesset member came to show solidarity. Ortal believes it’s because they are all frightened.
Tamam was 19 when he was murdered. His murderer now holds an advanced law degree, which he received while serving time in the Israeli prison system.
“We will continue to fight for our values. These are not the values of the bereaved families alone; these are the values shared by us all. This is not only about the bereaved families’ pain; it’s not about right or left, it’s not a question of politics; it’s a battle for values and justice”, Tamam concluded.
The bereaved families and protesters were initially deeply shocked and angered this morning by the Jerusalem Municipality’s order to evict the tent they erected near the prime minister’s residents in protest of the government’s decision to release the 26 Palestinian terrorists. Mayor Nir Barkat later visited them and assured they would not be shut down and apologized for the order. “The bereaved families’ pain is clear; there is not one who does not realize the price these families are paying. I came to show solidarity with these families and their pain. The Israeli Nation has, and is, paying a heavy price as a result of this decision to release the prisoners.” As for the eviction order, Barkat stated that he was not aware that it was issued and that it was their democratic right to demonstrate, and not only did he not oppose it but he came to show support as well.
Jerusalem Council member Aryeh King told Tazpit News Agency: “Mayor Barkat heeded the calls of council members not to shut down the demonstration. We came here with the mayor to express our solidarity with the bereaved families and to tell them that they are welcome to stay and serve as a voice for us all. In regards to the terrorists being released into Jerusalem – we will do all in our power and use the law to limit their rights as residents of this city.”