Yossi Zur

Hamas terrorists must not be released. My son’s murder shows why.

I oppose anything like a Shalit deal. Israel must go back to its old paradigm: You kidnap an Israeli, you die. Period
Detail from a screenshot of Asaf (Blondi) Zur's memorial website.
Detail from a screenshot of Asaf (Blondi) Zur's memorial website.

To be crystal clear, I am not objective. Hamas murdered my son. I have known for twenty years that Hamas has no right to exist. It’s a murderous organization driven by Nazi/ISIS ideology.

On March 5th, 2003, a terrorist Hamas suicide bomber boarded a bus in Haifa and blew himself up. He killed seventeen people, Israelis belonging to four religions. Nine of the killed were schoolchildren returning home from school.

Between 2008 and 2011, my friends and I led the effort in Israel to prevent the Shalit deal between Israel and Hamas. In that deal, Hamas ultimately released the kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for Israel releasing 1,027 terrorists, mostly murderers with Israeli blood on their hands. These were murderers, responsible for killing hundreds of innocent Israelis. Three of the released terrorists were directly responsible for the murder of my own son. All three had been tried in court and handed 17 life sentences. And yet they served a mere eight and half years in prison. Six months for each Israeli they murdered.

When pleading against the Shalit deal we warned that releasing terrorists, especially Hamas terrorists, was the equivalent of pouring fuel on the flames of an already raging fire. We knew the release would cause Hamas to be even more deadly, more motivated, more ideological. And we were right. It was not long before the released terrorists took over all the top positions in Hamas. Today the head of Hamas is Yahya Sinwar, who became a master terrorist in an Israeli prison. While in prison he was found to be suffering from a serious brain tumor. Israeli doctors operated on him and saved his life. It didn’t help Israel one iota. He remained a savage barbarian and serial murderer.

Everything we said then, 12 years ago, is true today. Releasing terrorists is dangerous, unjust, immoral, and a threat to the rule of law. Surrendering to Hamas and releasing terrorists will bring more kidnappings. If Israel wishes to put a stop to that mode of operation by Hamas, Hezbollah or others, we need to draw a line in the sand and make Hamas release all kidnapped Israelis by being creative and aggressive. Hamas leaders need to know that their lives depend on our kidnapped people being returned.

Before the Shalit deal, Israel had other options it could have brought to bear in order to pressure Hamas into a deal for Shalit as well as the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul. To give one example, a person in Gaza going to the market to buy food pays with Israeli shekels. Hamas may be bent on destroying Israel, but it still values Israeli cash. Israel maintains the monetary system in Gaza and periodically replaces old shekel bills with new ones. Israel could have ruined the Hamas system by stopping the flow of cash. Cutting off the water supply to Gaza looks inhumane, but everyone in the world would understand if we stopped delivering Israeli cash to Hamas. The same goes for exchanging the suitcases full of US dollars Qatar brought into the Strip.

Israel could have done a lot but it didn’t. Now that we have 220 kidnapped people in Gaza we need to change our paradigm and show that Israel is no longer paying for its people. We need to go back to the days of Entebbe. When the Palestinian terrorists kidnapped an Air France plane to Entebbe and demanded the release of terrorists, Israel, led by Yitzhak Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres, rejected the demand and sent the IDF to free the hostages. Israel set a bold standard, a message to the world, that it does not negotiate with terrorists. How did we get from there to the precedent set in the Shalit deal of releasing hundreds of killers for a single captive? We need to make a U-turn, even today, and go back to the Entebbe paradigm: You kidnap an Israeli, you die. Period.

About the Author
Yossi Zur, 64, is a software engineer who lives in Haifa. He is the father of four sons and has 3 grandchildren. His second son, Asaf, was killed in a terror attack in Haifa in 2003 when he was almost 17 and in the eleventh grade: 'Two years after Asaf was killed, we were blessed with another son who gave us life and allowed us to live with happiness alongside to grief.'