Israel on Tuesday night played out what has become the all-too-frequent, gut-wrenching ritual of freeing jailed Palestinian Arab terrorists "with blood on their hands."
These are men who have directly participated in the brutal murder of Israeli men, women and children. These are men who just a few short years ago Israel vowed it would never release.
As the government's willingness to stick to its former convictions has waned, efforts by the public to keep these killers behind bars have increased.
Up until the very minute that the 26 Palestinian prisoners were loosed late Tuesday night, Israelis were demonstrating and petitioning the Supreme Court against what they saw as a terrible mistake by their leaders.
Leading the charge, as usual, were the family members of the victims whose lives were taken by the unrepentant terrorists now feeling freedom's warm embrace.
"It makes no sense to release murderers who came in a premeditated manner to kill our people," Ortal Temam, whose father was killed by one of the terrorists nearly 30 years ago, told the Supreme Court judges. "We have lost our moral compass."
"We have now crossed every red line when it comes to freeing convicted murderers," added Meir Indor, head of the Almagor Terror Victims Association.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Prof. Avi Diskin of Jerusalem's Hebrew University said the only reason Israel goes through with this insanity is to please its American allies.
"It is true that we are extremely dependent on [the Americas], and that in order to placate them we free terrorists," said Diskin, "but this is a process [freeing convicted terrorists] they would never undertake in their own country."
Meanwhile in the de facto Palestinian capital of Ramallah, the release was predictably marked by joyous street celebrations. For the Palestinians, the freeing of those who have purposefully murdered Jewish men, women and children is a great victory over the hated "Zionists."
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas again declared that he would never conclude a final status peace agreement with Israel that did not include the release of every last Palestinian prisoner, regardless of his crime.