The following statements by Arnold and Frimet Roth are being published with their permission.
The Roth’s 15-year-old daughter, Malka, was murdered (along with 14 other Israeli civilians) in a suicide attack at the Jerusalem Sbarros in 2001.
It has been reported that, among the Palestinian prisoners to be released in the deal approved by Israel to gain the release of Gilad Shalit, is Ahlam Tamimi, the terrorist sentenced to sixteen life terms in jail for her role in the Sbarro massacre.
A government that seeks the defeat of the terrorists must refuse to release convicted terrorists from prisons. Israel has entered into transactions like this one several times in the past. If the plan was to bring terrorist attacks on Israelis to an end, then the release of those terrorists failed. We wonder why that lesson has never been properly internalized. Releasing imprisoned terrorists emboldens them and their colleagues. If they are captured, they know their imprisonment will be brief. By nurturing the belief that their demands are likely to be met in the future, you encourage terrorist blackmail of the very kind that you want to stop. Only the most unrelenting refusal to ever give in to such blackmail can prevent this.
If what I have just keyed in sounds vaguely familiar to some readers, there’s a good reason. It’s a paraphrase of page 144 of a 1997 book called “Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorists”. The author is Benjamin Netanyahu, and tonight we are astonished at the decision he pushed through the government.
Nothing is official yet but the murderer of our daughter and 14 other people, most of them women and children, is on the release list as we feared for years she would be. She has said in published jail-house interviews that she will be freed. She says she is not sorry for what she did. Her central role in the murders at the Sbarro restaurant have made her a hero. With her release, she will be a living inspiration to countless young Arabs desperate for a positive role-model in life. Is Israel ready for the consequences of that?
Has our government taken into account what the release means to families like us, and we are in the thousands, who have suffered the worst possible loss and now see the perpetrators dancing and prancing in the arms of their supporters?
Everyone wants Gilad Shalit home, safe and well. If we were his parents, we might have done what the Shalits did. But this is not the same as deciding, as prime minister or as the cabinet, what is good for the country, for the people of Israel. The jubilation emanating from the two Palestinian Arab governments tonight, the Hamas and the Abu Mazen regimes, should make clear to Israel’s friends everywhere that something dreadful has happened tonight. We may come to bitterly regret this transaction for years to come.
Along with the entire nation, I am relieved and happy that Gilad Shalit will be returning home imminently. But I am shocked and deeply pained that this is being achieved by the mass release of cold-blooded murderers.
One of them is Ahlam Tamimi, a proud terrorist and the unrepentant murderer of my fifteen year old daughter, Malki. Tamimi transported the 10 kg. bomb, handed it to her accomplice and then led him on foot to the door of the target she had selected, Jerusalem’s crowded Sbarro restaurant. Seven men and women and eight children perished. 130 people were injured. She was sentenced to sixteen terms of life in prison.
Tamimi declared that she does not regret what she did. She actually smiled when told the number of children whose lives she took.
With today’s decision to free the terrorists, prime minister Netanyahu, a savvy politician to the core, conveys to us his disdain for the lives of ordinary citizens like my Malki; his disrespect for Israel’s justice system; and his lack of regard for the soldiers who faced death in order to apprehend the terrorists about to be freed.
Which rational soldier or police officer is going risk his life in the future to defend us from the monsters like Tamimi, sworn to murder still more Jews?
The prime minister is quoted this morning saying that his “heart goes out” to Israel’s many terror victims. His actions and those of his cabinet suggest otherwise.
How can they sleep at night, knowing the peril they have brought onto their people?