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Dr. Daniel Pipes Calls Release Of 104 Palestinian Terrorist Murders "Lunacy and immorality...a repugnant action"

August 1, 2013

Thoughts on the Release of 104 Palestinian Murderers

by Daniel Pipes
July 27, 2013

updated Jul 31, 2013
Cross-posted from National Review Online, The Corner


Israeli leaders have a long history of making lopsided trades with their Arab enemies. These include:

1985 – 1,150 prisoners for 3 captured Israelis

2000 – 450 Arab prisoners for 3 Israeli bodies and a kidnapped Israeli;

2008 – 5 Arab prisoners (including the psychopath Samir al-Kuntar) and 199 Arab bodies for 2 Israeli bodies;

2011 – 1,027 Palestinian prisoners for Gilad Schalit.

I strenuously opposed these unbalanced exchanges (e.g., the Schalit one), even as I acknowledged the honorable Israeli intent not to abandon soldiers.

But there is nothing redeeming whatsoever in the exchange that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu proposed today, releasing 104 murderers as a good-will gesture to encourage the Palestinian Authority to negotiate. Netanyahu justified this decision on the basis that "sometimes prime ministers are forced to make decisions that go against public opinion - when the issue is important for the country."

This is a specious argument. Much more persuasively, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon argues that this gesture "is a prize for the Palestinians, just for their willingness to sit with us at the negotiating table. This defines future standards of far-reaching concessions by Israel, vis-à-vis ridiculous demands by the other side." Danon rightly calls the release of dozens of terrorists who have the blood of hundreds of Israelis on their hands "lunacy."

Lunacy, but also immorality. The exchange betrays the families of victims and it betrays Israel's allies. It is a repugnant action.

To those who would excuse Netanyahu on the grounds that he feels pressure from the U.S. government, I reply: this a lame excuse, for Israelis can and have often stood up to misguided American leaders; further, it appears to be inaccurate, for Netanyahu has recently suggested that, under the spell of the Ben-Gurion complex, has himself become convinced of the need for a Palestinian state in the West Bank.

One consolation is that the Israeli body politic has changed views: where as it approved the 2008 swap by a nearly 2-1 ratio, polling shows a 9-to-1 disapproval of the release of the 104.

The unwarranted release of these killers permanently taint, even curse, the negotiations they enable. (July 27, 2013)

July 28, 2013 update: The Israeli cabinet vote today on the 104 went as follows, to be noted for the record. Those in favor:

1. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud)

2. Yuval Steinitz (Likud)

3. Moshe Ya'alon (Likud)

4. Gideon Sa'ar (Likud)

5. Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beytenu)

6. Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Yisrael Beytenu)

7. Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid)

8. Yael German (Yesh Atid)

9. Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid)

10. Shai Piron (Yesh Atid)

11. Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid)

12. Tzipi Livni (Hatnua)

13. Amir Peretz (Hatnua)


1. Gilad Erdan (Likud)

2. Yisrael Katz (Likud)

3. Yair Shamir (Yisrael Beytenu)

4. Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beytenu)

5. Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi)

6. Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi)

7. Uri Orbach (Bayit Yehudi)


1. Silvan Shalom (Likud)

2. Limor Livnat (Likud)

July 29, 2013 update: And here's the list of the 104 killers to be released:

1. Karim Yusef Yunis, arrested in January 1983 (Israeli citizen)

2. Maher Abdel Latif Yunis, arrested in January 1983 (Israeli citizen)

3. Issa Nimer Abed Rabbo, arrested in October 1984

4. Ahmed Farid Shehadeh, arrested in February 1985

5. Mohamed Ibrahim Nasr, arrested in May 1985

6. Rafi Farhoud Karajeh, arrested in May 1985

7. Mustafa Amer Ghnaimat, arrested in July 1985

8. Ziad Mahmoud Ghnaimat, arrested in June 1985

9. Othman Abdallah Bani Hasan, arrested in July 1985

10. Haza'a Mohamed Sa'di, arrested in July 1985

11. Mohamed Ahmed al- Toss, arrested in October 1985

12. Fayez Mutawi al-Khur, arrested in November 1985

13. Mohamed Musbah Ashour, arrested in February 1986

14. Ibrahim Nayef Abu Mukh, arrested in March 1986 (Israeli citizen)

15. Rushdi Hamdan Abu Mukh, arrested in March 1986 (Israeli citizen)

16. Walid Nimer Dakka, arrested in March 1986 (Israeli citizen)

17. Ibrahim Abdel Razek Bayadseh, arrested in March 1986 (Israeli citizen)

18. Ahmed Ali Jaber, arrested in July 1986 (Israeli citizen)

19. Afu Musbah Shkair, arrested in July 1986

20. Samir Ibrahim Abu Ni'meh, arrested in October 1986

21. Mohamed Adel Daoud, arrested in December 1987

22. Yassin Mohamed Abu Khdeir, arrested in December 1987

23. Bashir Abdallah Khatib, arrested in January 1988 (Israeli citizen)

24. Mahmoud Othman Jabarin, arrested in October 1988 (Israeli citizen)

25. Juma'ah Ibrahim Adam, arrested in October 1988

26. Mahmoud Salem Kharbish, arrested in November 1988

27. Samir Saleh Sarsawi, arrested in November 1988

28. Bilal Ahmed Hussein, arrested in December 1988

29. Ibrahim Lutfi Taqtouq, arrested in March 1989

30. Samir Nayef al-Na'neesh, arrested in March 1989

31. Bilal Ibrahim Damra, arrested in June 1989

32. Mustafa Othman al-Haj, arrested in June 1989

33. Nihad Yusef Jundiyeh, arrested in July 1989

34. Mohamed Mahmoud Hamdiyeh, arrested in July 1989

35. Raed Mohamed al-Sa'di, arrested in August 1989

36. Najeh Mohamed Muqbel, arrested in July 1990

37. Mohamed Jaber Nashbat, arrested in September 1990

38. Ahmed said al-Damuni, arrested in September 1990

39. Mohamed Abdel Majid Sawalha, arrested in December 1990

40. Hosni Faregh Sawalha, arrested in December 1990

41. Mohamed Ahmed al- Sabbagh, arrested in January 1991

42. Khaled Daoud Azraq, arrested in February 1991

43. Mukhles Sidki Sawafta, arrested in March 1991

44. Fares Ahmed Baroud, arrested in March 1991

45. Khaled Mohamed Asakreh, arrested in May 1991

46. Faisal Mustafa Abu al- Rub, arrested in September 1991

47. Jamal Khaled Abu Muhsen, arrested in October 1991

48. Abdel Rahman Yusef al- Haj, arrested in February 1992

49. Mohamed Ata Muamar, arrested in February 1992

50. Ibrahim Hasan Ighbariyeh, arrested in February 1992 (Israeli citizen)

51. Mohamed Said Ighbarieyh, arrested in February 1992 (Israeli citizen)

52. Yahya Mustafa Ighbarieyh, arrested in March 1992

53. Mohamed Tawfik Jabareen, arrested in March 1992

54. Numan Yusef Shalabi, arrested in May 1992

55. Adnan Mohamed al- Afandi, arrested in May 1992

56. Sharif Hasan Abu Dhailah, arrested in May 1992

57. Muayad Salim Hijja, arrested in May 1992

58. Faraj Saleh al-Rimahi, arrested in July 1992

59. Israr Mustafa Samarin, arrested in August 1992

60. Musa Izzat Kura'n, arrested in August 1992

61. Dia Zakariya al-Falouji, arrested in October 1992

62. Osama Zakariya Abu Hanani, arrested in October 1992

63. Mohamed Yusef Turkeman, arrested in October 1992

64. Ahmed Juma'a Khalaf, arrested in November 1992

65. Mohamed Fawzi Falneh, arrested in November 1992

66. Jamil Abdel Wahab Natsheh, arrested in December 1992

67. Nasser Hasan Abu Srour, arrested in January 1993

68. Mahmoud Jamil Abu Srour, arrested in January 1993

69. Taher Mohamed Zaboud, arrested in February 1993

70. Ahmed Said Abdel Aziz, arrested in February 1993

71. Osama Khaled Silawi, arrested in February 1993

72. Yusef Abdel Hamid Irshaid, arrested in March 1993

73. Atef Izzat Sha'ath, arrested in March 1993

74. Mahmoud Nofal Da'ajneh, arrested in March 1993

75. Mohamed Mustafa Afaneh, arrested in April 1993

76. Ramadan Mohamed Yakoub, arrested in April 1993

77. Ayman Mohamed Jaradat, arrested in April 1993

78. Omar Issa Masoud, arrested in May 1993

79. Yusef Awwad Masalha, arrested in May 1993

80. Mahmoud Musa Issa, arrested in June 1993

81. Rizek Ali Salah, arrested in June 1993

82. Salah Mahmoud Mukled, arrested in July 1993

83. Nael Rafik Salhab, arrested in September 1993

84. Ahmed Awad Kmeil, arrested in September 1993

85. Salameh Abdallah Musleh, arrested in October 1993

86. Esmat Omar Mansour, arrested in October 1993

87. Mikdad Ibrahim Salah, arrested in October 1993

88. Samir Hussein Murtaji, arrested in October 1993

89. Said Rushdi Tamimi, arrested in November 1993

90. Mohamed Yusef Shamasneh, arrested in November 1993

91. Abdel Jawad Yusef Shamasneh, arrested in December 1993

92. Ala Eddin Fahmi al-Karaki, arrested in December 1993

93. Nasser Fawzi Barham, arrested in December 1993

94. Hilmi Hamad al-Amawi, arrested in January 1994

95. Ala eddin Ahmed Abu Sitteh, arrested in January 1994

96. Midhat Fayez Barbakh, arrested in January 1994

97. Ayman taleb Abu Sitteh, arrested in January 1994

98. Yusef Said al-Al, arrested in February 1994

99. Atiyeh Salem Musa, arrested in March 1994

100. Hazem Kassem Shbair, arrested in March 1994

101. Ali Ibrahim al-Rai, arrested in April 1994

102. Mahmoud Mohamed Salman, arrested in May 1994

103. Rami Jawdat Barbakh, arrested in October 1994

104. Ibrahim Fayez Abu Ali, arrested in October 1994

July 30, 2013 update: Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said the decision to release the 104 was made "with a heavy heart": "These are murderers. This is a challenge to justice, to law and to bereaved families, and I hear their voices." But he cited unspecified secret reasons to justify his vote in favor of the release:

Releasing prisoners came as a result of choosing a bad option over a worse option… We reached the decision to avoid the worse [option]. Many strategic considerations, which may be revealed in the future, stood behind this, and hence we must go forward with a release of pre-Oslo prisoners.

Comment: Obviously, I don't know what those strategic considerations might be (an offer of U.S. bunker busters for use against Iranian targets?) but they did not convince the seven cabinet members who voted no. I disbelieve Ya'alon, that some secret justifies this ugly and immoral act.

Livni, Kerry and Erekat. How does releasing killers promote peace?

July 31, 2013 update: Another possible clue for Netanyahu's shameful release of the 104 killers, offered by the often unreliable Barak Ravid of Ha'aretz:

The United States administration gave the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams on Tuesday letters of assurance which outlined the U.S. position vis-à-vis the peace talks, their conduct and their goals, in order to facilitate the renewal of peace talks, a senior Israeli official said. The content of the letters remains classified, yet it likely addresses the issues of borders and refugees. … the letter to Israel apparently included an American declaration stating Israel is a Jewish state and that the U.S. position is that the Palestinian refugees should return to the future Palestinian state.

Comments: (1) The U.S. government has often declared Israel to be a Jewish state; in particular, Barack Obama has stated that "Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state." So what exactly is the gain here? (2) That Palestinian "refugees" should go to the West Bank and Gaza rather than to Israel is so basic a requirement of any final status outcome that its articulation now amounts to practically nothing. (3) In short, if Ravid has it right, this letter of assurance amounts to nil.

Aug. 2, 2013 updates: (1) How interesting that the same State Department that pressured Israel to release 104 terrorists has put out a world wide terror alert and temporarily shut down 21 diplomatic missions due to fears of a terrorist attack. Is the place stupid, or what?

(2) Anat Berko, a specialist on Israel security prisoners, offers another implicit reason not to release the 104 at "Israeli Prisons, Hothouses for Breeding Palestinian Terrorists": their long periods in prison make them more dangerous.

as opposed to the ordinary felons who have to deal with the prison authorities on a one-to-one basis, the security prisoners have operational autonomy. In each jail, terrorists move within their own microcosms made up of prisoners from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or even al-Qaida and Hizballah. Each group has its own spokesman. The spokesman's role is to represent whichever organization he, and sometimes she, belongs to in dealing with the prison authorities. …

The conditions of the security prisoners are the responsibility of the Israeli government, which wants peace and quiet within the prison walls because every hunger strike ignites the Palestinian street. Between the abduction of soldiers and the peace process, the security prisoners are certain they will not serve their full terms. That certainty makes them stronger and gives them hope that they will be released fairly shortly even if they were sentenced to consecutive life terms. …

It is almost impossible to enumerate the benefits of being a security prisoner. Terrorists can finish their studies, and the younger ones get fictitious matriculation certificates certified by examiners paid by the Palestinian Authority. Until recently, adult terrorists were allowed for bachelors', masters' and doctoral degrees in the Open University, taking courses in Jewish studies, Zionism, etc., and perfecting their Hebrew. …

They refuse to work while in prison, even though they would be paid, because they do not want to serve the "Zionist enemy." They prefer to spend their time planning terrorist attacks to be carried out by their organizations, propagandizing and paving the way for less-hardened terrorists to follow in their footsteps in a life of anti-Israeli terrorism. Many leave prison healthier, better educated, and better connected – both socially and professionally – than when they entered. With their release they can add the important note "former security prisoner in an Israeli jail" to their résumés, enabling them to advance more quickly through the ranks of their various organizations.

By imprisoning Palestinian terrorist murderers, the State of Israel does not achieve deterrence; no attempt can be made to rehabilitate or reeducate them because they reject the idea and do not cooperate. They simply stew in their own juices and become more dangerous.

Depriving a person his freedom is the worst possible punishment that can be imposed, but society deserves justice, its victims have to be avenged, and that is also part of the philosophy of punishment. In the saga of the Palestinian terrorist prisoners in Israeli jails, the trials and tribulations of imprisonment, represented as overwhelming, are actually minor. The Israeli jails have turned into hothouses for breeding terrorists; they are laboratories which turn petty terrorists into specialists, and often with diplomas.

Aug. 5, 2013 update: Khaled Abu Toameh makes a number of important points for Gatestone Institute about the Palestinian response to the release of the 104. Quoting him:

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