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Ten lessons the Shalit deal taught us

Conclusions from the three torturous years since the prisoner swap that set her daughter's murderer free
Hamas militants take part in a march in the streets of Gaza City to mark the first anniversary of the Shalit deal.  October 18, 2012 (photo credit: Wissam Nassar/Flash90)
Hamas militants take part in a march in the streets of Gaza City to mark the first anniversary of the Shalit deal. October 18, 2012 (photo credit: Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

This week we mark the third anniversary of the Shalit Deal. On that day, October 18, 2011, my husband and I felt as though our child, Malki, murdered in the notorious Sbarro massacre of August 2001, was killed a second time. The anguish and torment we felt as we watched her released murderer, Ahlam Tamimi, triumphant and joyous, hug family and admirers celebrating her arrival at Amman airport were unbearable.

How can that be compared to Malki’s actual murder? There are no expert psychological delineations of a normal reaction to such an experience. That’s because no other leader in the world has ever overturned 16 life sentences in one fell swoop to free a mass murderer, as prime minister Netanyahu did. No other leader freed scores of murderers and handed them back to their terror groups. No other leader trampled the rights of victims of terror the way he did. There are, therefore, no other instances of this torture to compare to ours. So please just take our word for it. Malki was indeed murdered twice.

  1. A stint in an Israeli prison rarely rehabilitates a terrorist. It punishes them and isolates them from bombs and missiles. But prison is where they belong for as long as our court deemed, just for our own and our children’s good.
  1. Terrorists who are freed from Israeli prison prematurely and return to terrorism are more dangerous than novices. This refutes the Shalit-camp contention that it’s immaterial whether terrorists remain in prison; there will always be a terrorist threat regardless, they say. But the fact is a released terrorist is the most lethal sort.
  1. Sending freed terrorists into exile does not render them harmless. They are equally capable of murdering while residing there as they would be in the West Bank or Gaza. Exile simply places them out of the reach of the IDF or other arms of Israeli security. Tamimi, the woman who engineered the massacre that killed my daughter, was “exiled” (in the government of Israel’s language) to the land in which she was born and raised, Jordan. Jordan is the very comfortable base from which she now travels and broadcasts freely throughout the Arab world, exhorting her audiences to respect and emulate the murderous actions of terrorists like herself.
  1. Terrorists who boast that they will be freed before serving their sentence should be taken seriously. They know what they are talking about. “Despite the fact that I’m sentenced to 16 life sentences, I know that we will become free from Israeli occupation and then I will also be free from the prison,” said Ahlam Tamimi, our child’s murderer in an interview she gave from prison, some years before being freed.
  1. Other countries (including the US and Lebanon among others) threatened by Islamist terrorists have refused demands to free prisoners, even those detained without trial or conviction. In recent weeks, several have been tested by kidnappers and still stood firm. In contrast to Israel, justice proved immutable in those countries. Ours is the one judiciary that has been emasculated by this government’s repeated release of scores of convicted terrorist-murderers.
  1. The release of terrorists does not win Israel international kudos. It has not spared her U.S. and European criticism for such “transgressions” as settlement construction, bombing Hamas in defense of its civilians or its embargo on Gaza.
  1. Our government seems determined to keep statistics about Shalit Deal releasees secret. Despite media reports of scores of re-arrests of those terrorists, the families of terror victims say they are stonewalled when seeking hard numbers of arrests and re-imprisonment.
  1. 79% of Israelis supported the Shalit Deal. Most have since learned the above lessons. By July 2013, 85% of Israelis opposed the terrorist releases which Mr. Netanyahu offered in order, he claimed, to jump-start peace talks. But the public’s wishes were disregarded and most of those prisoners were delivered to the PA. Peace talks re-stalled nonetheless and the PA insisted that the releases were in no way linked to any talks. Just a freebie.
  1. Politicians change their incontrovertible, fundamental principles the way we change our clothes. Bibi Netanyahu’s widely-acclaimed treatise “Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorists” warned of the dire consequences of negotiating with and releasing imprisoned terrorists. But in the first real test of his integrity on this – the Shalit challenge – he failed. Now he consistently ignores his own insightful advice.
  2. These lessons have had no impact on our leaders. Three years after the Shalit Deal, PM Netanyahu continues to use imprisoned terrorists as cheap currency with which to win concessions from our enemies. Media reports [here, here and here for instance], predict he is on the verge of a fresh mass-prisoner-release to retrieve the bodies of two IDF soldiers killed in Operation Protective Edge. Will the voices of the 85% of Israelis opposed to such travesties of justice prevent this one?
About the Author
A Jerusalem-based freelance writer, law graduate and commentator on the challenges facing people with special needs, Frimet Roth together with her husband Arnold co-founded The Malki Foundation ( in 2001. It provides concrete support for Israeli families of all faiths who care at home for a special-needs child. The Roths' daughter Malki was murdered at the age of 15 in the terrorist bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria. Her personal blog, under the title "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly", is at The views expressed here are personal.
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