National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau said Wednesday that the prisoner swap agreement reached between Israel and Hamas to free Gilad Shalit was a “great victory for terrorism.”
Landau was one of three ministers who voted against the proposal early Wednesday morning. Joining Landau were Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon of Likud. Twenty-six ministers voted in favor of the deal, which would see Shalit, the IDF soldier who has been in Hamas captivity for the last five years, return to Israel.
“On the one hand of the scales you have Gilad Shalit – the Israeli soldier who was abducted because in all the preceding years there were many terrorists that were released and created incentives for his abduction. Opposite that, you know that if, as a result of this agreement, many terrorists are released, there is a tremendous incentive to murder Israelis and abduct additional (Israelis),” said Landau.
Prior to Landau’s comments, families who lost loved ones in terror attacks over the years expressed difficult feelings in response to the apparent approval of the Shalit deal. Ron Karman, who lost his daughter, Tal, in a terror attack on bus number 37 in Haifa in 2003 told Haaretz, “I am happy for the (Shalit) family, but fear for the security of the citizens of Israel. It’s terrifying to hear the names on the list that has been known for five years.”
Karman added, “It is very saddening that the prime minister is gathering the Cabinet to approve the deal and not to discuss its terms.” When asked whether the families of Israelis killed in terrorist attacks would appeal to the High Court of Israel in order to thwart the deal, Karman said past experience teaches that the High Court does not intervene in political matters and thus it would be pointless to pursue such a goal.
The deal reached by Israel and Hamas, with Egyptian mediation – and the assistance of Germany over the years – was passed by the Cabinet early Wednesday morning.
Under the agreement, 1027 prisoners will be released. Of those, 479 Palestinian security prisoners will be released in exchange for Shalit – a swap that is expected to take place in about a week – and in two months, Israel will release another 550 prisoners that it chooses.
Palestinian security prisoners to be released include the murderers of kidnapped IDF soldiers Nachshon Wachsman, Ilan Sasportas and Ilan Saadon.
Other prisoners being released include the perpetrator of the Bus 405 Tel Aviv-Jerusalem attack in 1989, the terrorist who killed 10 Israelis in Wadi Harmiyeh north of Ramallah in 2002, the terrorist who brought the suicide bomber to the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001, and several perpetrators of the lynch in Ramallah in October 2000.
Among these prisoners, those from the West Bank will not be able to return to their homes and will be deported to the Gaza Strip or abroad.