Abed al-Hadi Ganaim is among the 477 terrorists who will be released as part of the first phase of the Shalit deal, slated to be carried out Tuesday. At the height of the first intifada in July 1989, Ganaim, a resident of Gaza, took control of bus number 405, forcefully pulled the steering wheel and drove it off a cliff on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway. Sixteen people were killed in the attack.
"I am torn to pieces, going through horrible days. I am frustrated," says Dalia Cohen from Jerusalem, whose daughter Kinneret was among those killed.
Bereaved families torn by Shalit deal:
Ever since news of the deal emerged, the bereaved families are finding it hard to function. "Everybody wants Gilad home but we cannot imagine this villain gesturing the V symbol with his hands on his way to freedom," they say.
Injured evacuted from scene of bus 405 attack in 1989 (Photo: AP)
Twenty-two years have passed but the incident does not let go. The debate on the price paid for Shalit tears them apart. For them, the wound is reopening.
"On the one hand, I am happy that Gilad is coming back to his mother," explains Dalia. "I am also a mother and I know what it's like. I know how much I would want to get my child back. Everybody is happy around me but I cannot rejoice. I feel like I am betraying my daughter."
"I feel like she is screaming, her blood, her ashes are crying out to us and I cannot do anything to prevent it," she says painfully.
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Akiva Mizrahi lost his father Nahum in the attack. "I have met Yoel Shalit. I told him that I am willing to see prisoners released for Gilad, but since it became a reality I feel bad. It's very hard. I can no longer say the things I've said. My father will not return but I am worried at what we are expected to see, God forbid, with other soldiers. I cannot imagine (the terrorist) walking free and not paying for what he has done."
|Aviva Shalit: We are also a bereaved family (Video: Ido Becker)|
When Abed al-Aziz Salaha will march out of the confines of the Israeli prison on his way to freedom, Simo Avrahami will grieve once again. More than a decade since his son Yossi and another IDF reservist Vadim Norzich were lynched by a mob in Ramallah in one of the most brutal attacks in Israeli history, Simo got the word that his son's killer is slated to be released in the Shalit deal.
Salaha, who was photographed in the horrific photo with his hands covered with blood in what has become the symbol of the second intifada, was sentenced to life in prison.
Abed al-Aziz Salaha with his hands covered in blood (Photo: Imagebank / AFP)
"I plan on sitting shiva (In Judaism, shiva is the week-long period of grief and mourning for a first-degree relative) for the second time," Avrahami told Ynet. The bereaved father first heard of Salaha's release through the media.
"I have nothing against the Shalit family. They acted as any family is expected to act when its son is kidnapped. I did, however, expect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to exercise judgment and not deceit thousands of bereaved families," he says.
In a cracked voice, Simo describes the difficulty of once again seeing on television the photo of his son's killer blood-stained hands. "Netanyahu and Barak betrayed the memory of our children who cannot stand up and call – don't let them out. If in a year from now, Netanyahu's son is kidnapped, he will surely agree to release 7,000 security prisoners because he already has set a dangerous precedent that expresses weakness in front of a brutal enemy."
Vadim Norzich's brother, Michael, was equally upset over the deal. "The government lied to all the bereaved families. They promised the bereaved parents that the terrorists would never get out. Ehud Barak made a personal promise to me that this terrorist would never see the light of day. I knew that day that he had lied to me.
"I told everyone that it was only a matter of time before the next deal. I saw the Goldwasser and Regev deal and I knew that it was only a matter of time before the murderers of my brother (are released)," he says.