The red flags were everywhere. That is irrefutable. Journalists, starting with the intrepid Zvi Yechekieli and Ohad Chamu, now replay the chilling footage of and by Hamas which they disseminated on Israeli news stations prior to October 7. Sometimes many years before.
They are as stunned as we all are that those red flags were ignored.
The recent expose [“How Years of Israeli Failures on Hamas Led to a Devastating Attack“, Ronen Bergman, Mark Mazzetti and Maria Abi-Habib, New York Times, October 29, 2023] cites myriad other unheeded alarm bells sounded for years by experts on Hamas.
Instead a policy of appeasement was pursued by our leaders.
Hamas was deemed both a weak movement and the lesser of any other evils liable to fill a void left by its eradication.
So confident were Israel’s leaders in our superior capabilities that one year ago we stopped eavesdropping on Hamas’ internal phone conversations. It was assessed to be a waste of time and resources.
Had that eavesdropping continued, October 7 would not have happened.
Even among Israel’s masses, warnings about Hamas were sounded.
My husband and I were among those who took up the cudgel after suffering from Hamas’ blood-thirst two decades ago. [See for instance “In Israel, Swap Touches Old Wounds“, Ethan Bronner in the New York Times, October 14, 2011]
In the Sbarro massacre of August 9, 2001, Hamas robbed us of our child, Malki.
Eight children were among the 16 victims. That was, for Jerusalem, the equivalent of New York suffering 170 victims based on today’s population figures.
The Hamas operative who orchestrated that bombing, Ahlam Tamimi, selected her target after carefully scouting the Jerusalem city center. In her testimony to Israeli law enforcement officials, she explained that she chose a business and hour when the site would be laden with religious Jewish women and children.
We pleaded with then-prime-minister Netanyahu not to release this particularly evil murderer in the Shalit Deal which he ultimately carried out at the urging of his wife, Sara (as he later revealed to a German journalist.)
The 12th anniversary of that infamous “deal” was marked two weeks ago and prompted a scathing piece by Nadav Shragai in the Hebrew daily Yisrael Hayom on October 19, 2023, summarizing its background and its consequences. See אם כל חטאת (ב’): המחיר הבלתי נסבל של עסקת שליט
Tamimi was freed along with 1,026 other terrorists, hundreds of whom were convicted murderers and most of whom were sent to the West Bank. Tamimi herself went to Jordan, where she was born, raised and educated. Most of her immediate family is from there.
Many of those let loose in the Shalit Deal are today central figures in Hamas’ elite, with one, Yahya Sinwar at its helm. Another releasee, Ali Karachi, oversaw the October 7 horrors. Overall, more than half of those freed in the Shalit Deal returned to terrorism shortly afterwards.
As Shragai details, caving in to the Israeli consensus and ignoring the warnings of experts was a catastrophic move by Netanyahu and his cabinet. (Out of 29, only 3 dissented.) It lay the groundwork for numerous subsequent Hamas terror attacks including the October 7 massacres and kidnappings.
Because our Malki, along with another Sbarro victim, was a US citizen, charges against Tamimi were unsealed and announced by the Justice Department of the United States in March 2017. (They had been sealed, meaning kept secret, since being signed off by a federal judge in July 2013.) A third American victim died years after the bombing, having never regained consciousness, on May 31, 2023.
King Abdullah II’s regime has refused to comply with the US demand to extradite her. It has been intransigent in its non compliance despite a treaty signed and ratified by both countries in 1995 and recognized as valid by the US.
We have been beseeching the State Department to pressure Jordan to comply. But to no avail.
Not even American Jewish leaders have raised their voices to urge her extradition, despite our repeated pleas to them.
And we have learned from unnamed sources, that the Israeli government as well, has been opposed to pressuring Jordan to extradite her.
We are baffled.
Today, when Israel is risking the lives of its precious young soldiers to eradicate the existential threat of Hamas, one active operative, Tamimi, is free and safe in the arms of the US “ally”, Jordan.
As a brazen vocal inciter to violence against Israel, Tamimi is as dangerous a terrorist as those Israel is fighting in Gaza. Yet she can be easily silenced without any loss of life. A mere unequivocal demand (threat?) to King Abdullah, and the deed is done.
Why, six years after her indictment, must we still wait?