Tuesday September 2, 2014
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02.09.2014
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Cabinet convenes to approve unpopular prisoner release
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Nadav Shragai

Once a terrorist, always a terrorist

Beyond the grave immorality involved in releasing murderous terrorists from prison -- not in exchange for a living or dead soldier or within the framework of a peace agreement -- but only so that the Palestinians will sit in the same room with us to talk; and beyond turning the law and the court's decision into a "joke," the bitter taste, humiliation and insult felt by the bereaved families about to witness their children's killers set free by the Israeli government -- is one fact that must serve as the determining factor, even for those who are ignoring all the other good reasons: Released terrorists return to killing and hurting us. That is how it was, how it is, and how it shall be.

Our distant history is familiar: Many of the perpetrators and murderers of the two intifadas and multitude of terrorist attacks were released in previous peace deals and "gestures." Recent history is less known: Dozens of the prisoners released in the last deal, for Gilad Schalit, have also returned to involvement in terrorist activity. Some have already been detained again.

One of the more prominent figures among them is Hamas operative Iman Alshrawni, who in 2002 was sentenced to 38 years in prison for his involvement in a terrorist attack that wounded 20 people in Beersheba. He was released in October 2011, signed an agreement to refrain from terrorist activity, but returned to his old ways and was arrested again at the beginning of 2012. In prison he began a hunger strike and Israel allowed him to go to Gaza. He recently told a Lebanese television station that he is back to working for Izzedine al-Qassam, Hamas' military wing.

"Old" Iman is relevant to us because he is the same age as many of the "old" killers who the government, under American pressure, will ask for authorization Sunday morning to release. Some of the members of Hamas terrorist cells operating near Nablus and Hebron, arrested by the Israel Security Agency, were also released in the Schalit deal. These cells planned a series of devastating bombings and kidnappings.

The Palestinian street does not see the release of prisoners as an act of mending fences, conciliation or restraint, as some in Israel fool themselves in believing. From their point of view, this is a victory for them and a defeat for us. The message they receive is that terrorism pays off, that it can be implemented accordingly -- as a supplementary act to be used before or after negotiations to gain more from the talks or even to stop them.

Contrary to the common perception, history teaches us that a diplomatic process and peace talks actually encourage terrorism. Those who oppose peace, such as the killers Israel is setting free, will be the first to act against this process and return to terrorism. That is how it has always been. That is how it will continue to be. Releasing these murderers will galvanize them and lead to more spilled blood in our streets.

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