A protest against a prisoner-exchange deal for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit took place before the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem Thursday, with hundreds of participants being led by members of the bereaved families of terror victims.
Also among the protestors were IDF officers and reservists, who labeled the possible deal a "strategic failure".
One of the speakers at the protest was Yossi Mendellevich, who lost his 13-year old boy to a terror attack on a bus in Haifa in 2003. He and two other bereaved parents from the city, Yossi Zur and Ron Karman, set up a tent on the scene.
"We raised public awareness towards the end of Olmert's time in office in an effort to prevent the release of hundreds of prisoners, until he sobered and left the hot potato to Netanyahu," Mendellevich said.
"Now it appears that the publication of the video tape this weekend in exchange for the release of 20 'almost-murderers' was actually a spin to gauge the public's stability."
He added, "We've embarked on this campaign in order to prevent the next strategic terror attack. The previous one was during the intifada between the years 2000-2005, in which we lost our children. The next one is expected after the release of hundreds of terrorists."
Lieutenant-Colonel (Res) Dan Sion claims the rumored deal would constitute a strategic failure. "A deal in which terrorists are released broadcasts political weakness, which endangers the lives of citizens and harms us as civilians," he said at the protest.
"It is an ethical failure to release terrorists with blood on their hands, terrorists who were judged and are not defined as captives of war. It's unethical towards the families and towards the victims who will be murdered in the future."
Sion said the terrorists released in exchange for Elhanan Tannenbaum, the Israeli businessman kidnapped by Hezbollah in 2001, have so far been responsible for the deaths of 23 Israelis.
He added that he was not opposed to the release of Gilad Shalit, but that the state should exhaust all other options before releasing terrorists. "The fact that there are people willing to think and talk about the prevention of the release of terrorists is important," Sion said.