Harsh criticism of the government and anger that murderers will have a new life, while victims and their families remain only with grief – these are the feelings accompanying relatives and acquaintances on the Israeli side of the second phase of the release of Palestinian prisoners.
On Sunday night, the names were published of the 26 Palestinian prisoners who are set to be released on Wednesday as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority in light of the resumption of peace negotiations. Shortly afterwards the Palestinian shouts of happiness mingled with the Israeli cries of despair.
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The prisoner release directly affected the family of Isaac Rotenberg, a Holocaust survivor who was murdered with an ax at a Petah Tikva construction site about 19 years ago. One of the killers – Atiyeh Salem Musa – was released two months ago during the first phase of the agreement, while his partner, Hazem Kassem Shbair of Gaza, is expected to be released now. Israel is slated to release a total of 104 prisoners in four batches.
Video courtesy of jn1.tv
"During the night, someone called the media and told me my husband's murderer was going to be set free," said Rivka, Rotenberg's wife. “This is a terrible thing, I can’t believe they’re releasing him. It floods me with all the feelings I had since then. I woke up this morning with the image of the police car that came to our home that day home to inform me that he was murdered; this is a picture that I cannot get out of my head.”
Attorney Ian Feinberg worked in Gaza for the European Union in an attempt to assist in economic development and bringing in foreign investors. He was murdered in 1993 by Omar Issa Masoud, along with three other people who participated in a work meeting. His sister, Dr. Gila Molcho of Haifa, responded in tears to news of the killer’s release.
Woman taking pictures at celebrations for last prisoner release (Photo: AFP)
"I woke up to a black morning," she said while criticizing the "formula" that allows the release of terrorists in exchange for continued construction beyond the Green Line. “We are simply giving up on everything that is important and dear to us and for what? One thousand houses? It would be better to write on all those houses the names of our loved ones, like the tombstones."
Immediately upon publication of the names of the prisoners to be released, celebrations began in the homes of their families. Dozens of residents of the Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem flocked to the home of the parents of Issa Nimer Abed Rabbo. Abed Rabbo is the longest serving prisoner on the list, convicted of the murders of Revital Seri and Ron Levi near the Cremisan Monastery south of Jerusalem in October 1984. Abed Rabbo's mother told Ynet that although her son has spent long years in prison, she would find it difficult to wait until Tuesday. "I'm happy. I want to thank God and Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas)."
Sharif Hasan Abu Dhailah, also set to be released, was convicted in the murder of Avi Osher in June 1991. He stabbed Osher in the back while working together in the packing house of the Jordan Valley's Bekaot settlement orchard, then he stole his gun. The media at the time reported on "the first time an Arab worker turned on his employer." Ten months later, Abu Dhailah was captured when he tried to fire on vehicles in the area.
“Our family is grieving and bows its head today in the memory of my father," said Merav Osher, the daughter of the victim. "He surprised him from behind, wiped his machete and went back to the packing house to drink a cup of coffee."
She added, "We are very disappointed with the state and its erroneous decision. I am disgusted by the (low level of the) argument and by the exchanges, as if we were discussing whether or not to deliver tomatoes and if so, at what price. The state decided a murderer was worth a house, and has decided to make peace with murderers, and we see this as a serious betrayal of us. The justice system did no justice. They stuck one last knife in our back.”
She said, "Together with my father, many things were murdered. For me and my brother, they murdered our childhood. I was 16-and-a-half and he was eight-years-old. They murdered all the hopes and dreams of my mother, and made her sick. We are anxious, very worried. We experienced a serious trauma, and the second trauma came from our home, from Bibi (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) and his government. They did not consider for a moment or give any thought to what happens to people who sit at home and mourn until today over the death of a human being."
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