Many Israeli families reacted to news of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange with a mix of joy and sadness. Joy because a young man whom the entire nation grieved for is being returend to his family after more than five years in captivity. Sadness because the price of Gilad's freedom is the release of those who killed their own loved ones.
A large number of bereaved families petitioned Israel's Supreme Court on Monday to postpone the Shalit exchange in order to remove some of the more "heavy" terrorists from the list of those being freed.
For instance, as part of the deal, Israel will free Ahlam Tamimi, a female terrorist who was the driver for the suicide bomber who killed 15 people and wounded 130 others at a pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem in 2001.
Also on the list is Khalil Muhammad Abu Ulbah, who in 2001 used his Egged passenger bus to run down and kill eight people. And the terrorists who opened fire on a bus stop in 2005, killing Kinneret Mandel, Matat Rosenfeld-Edler and 14 year-old Oz Ben-Meir. And the terrorist sniper who killed chaya Rund's son, Erez, while he was driving in Samaria in 2002. And Abed Alaziz Salaha, whose face has become famous as the young man who joyously waved his bloody hands out the window of a Ramallah police station in 2000 after participating in the extremely brutal lynch of two Israeli men.
This is but a small sampling of the hundreds of terrorists with blood on their hands that were exchanged for Shalit.
Despite the difficulty of accepting such a deal, Israel's Supreme Court ruled that at it could not interfere with the exchange at such a late hour, lest it put Gilad's life in danger.
Israeli lawmaker Michael Ben-Ari lamented the decision and the precedent it sets, telling The Jerusalem Post:
"Today every Arab child knows they can murder 20 or 30 Jews and tomorrow they will go free. Israel is sending the message that killing Jews is permissible."
Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu tried to assuage the pain of the bereaved families, reminding them that he, too, had lost a loved one (his brother Yoni) in battle against Israel's enemies.
"I write to you with a heavy heart,” Netanyahu wrote in an open letter to the families of terror victims. "I understand and know your pain. I know that you have a heavy heart, that your wounds have been opened anew these past days; that your thoughts are not at ease."
Netanyahu went on to say that he understands the difficulty in coming to grips with the fact that "the evil people who perpetrated the appalling crimes against your loved ones will not pay the full price that they deserve."
Meir Indor of the Almagor Terror victims' Organization was not impressed, and urged Netanyahu not to take part in any celebratory events, since for far too many Israelis this is a day of happiness for the Shalit family mixed with their own despair.
"For many Israelis this is a second day of mourning and some see it as a day of submission,” wrote Indor in a letter to Netanyahu. "Forget the artificial victory festivals that you’re trying to create. There is no victory here."
Meanwhile, celebrations to welcome home the killers were already underway in Gaza, the so-called "West Bank" and Israeli Arab towns.
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