Jewish political prisoners in Israel

The campaign to free Jewish “nationalist” prisoners is heating up. The Honenu civil rights organization has organized 11 mayors – so far – to ask Pres. Peres to pardon them.

Eleven mayors of towns and local councils in Judea and Samaria have signed a letter to President Shimon Peres asking him to pardon some 20 Jewish prisoners convicted of nationalist crimes. 

The letter states, “We are nearing the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel,” the letter states.  “These are days of unity and appeasement… We know that various requests have reached your table to pardon prisoners to mark the 60th anniversary milestone, and we assume that your honor is likely to respond positively to at least some of them.”

“It is no secret that for years, Jewish nationalist prisoners have been held in jail for various crimes they committed during periods of security crises, out of deep personal and communal distress.  We are of the opinion that in the framework of the atmosphere of national reconciliation of this 60th year, and given that they have expressed regret for their actions, these prisoners should be pardoned, permitted to return to their homes, families, and small children, and to thus rehabilitate themselves.”

The letter has thus far been signed by:

Dubi Tal, Jordan Valley Regional Council
Avi Roeh, Binyamin Regional Council
Tzviki Bar-Chai, Mount Hevron Regional Council
Gershon Masika, Shomron Regional Council
Sha’ul Goldstein, Gush Etzion Regional Council

Rabbi Meir Rubinstein, Beitar Illit Municipality
Moshe Rosenbaum, Beit El Local Council
Eli Mizrachi, Efrat Local Council
Herzl Ben-Ari, Karnei Shomron Local Council
Tzvi Katzover Kiryat Arba Local Council
Chananel Durani, Kedumim Local Council

We oppose the release of Arab terrorists, but now that they have been freed, we ask that the Jewish prisoners be released as well, in order to correct the discriminatory policy against them.”
 

The letter also alludes to the imbalance between Arab and Jewish prisoners, in that thousands of the former have been freed early over the years: “It is no secret that even in the past year, hundreds of terrorists have been freed.  We oppose the release of terrorists from prison, but now that they have been freed, we ask that the Jewish prisoners be released as well, in order to correct the discriminatory policy against them.”

Last week, six of the prisoners submitted a request to be pardoned.  One of them, Shlomi Dvir, told Arutz-7 of the difficult conditions in which they are being held, including not being allowed the customary periodic vacations that other prisoners are given.

 

Earlier this week, two women – the wife of one of the prisoners (a mother of seven) and the fiancée of another – met with Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and asked him to support their request for a pardon.  They reported afterwards that Dichter told them straight out, “We have a political interest in releasing the Arabs, but we have no such interest in making similar gestures towards the Jewish prisoners.”  The women said they left the meeting feeling “humiliated.”

Shmuel Medad, head of the Honenu civil rights organization that has made it one of its priorities to attain the Jewish prisoners’ release this year, told Arutz-7, “This is the very face of corruption.  They have released so many terrorists who caused so much harm to Jewish families, yet they refuse to come towards the Jewish families themselves – and then they say openly that they have no ‘interest’ – that is, because the Jewish families don’t kidnap Israeli soldiers and hold them hostage, the Israeli government has no ‘interest’ in helping them.”

Honenu was established several years ago to help citizens whose spontaneous acts of self-defense in life-threatening situations had embroiled them in legal trouble.  In addition, Honenu hired lawyers, at group-discounted rates, to represent the hundreds of youths who were charged with crimes related to their protests of the Disengagement/expulsion.

Medad explained in a letter that this governmental attitude is much more harmful and corrupt than stealing money or the like: “It is an attitude of abandonment – an attitude that produces the abandonment of Pollard, the release of terrorists, the removal of others from the list of wanted terrorists, the giving of weapons and uniforms to [Fatah], the abandonment of the MIA’s Katz, Feldman and Baumol from the [1982] battle of Sultan Yaaqub, the forsaking of Ron Arad, Madhat Yusuf, Shalit, Goldwasser, and Regev, and many more in the past and – if there is no change – in the future as well.  Not only that, but the government is now continuing this approach by negotiating the expulsion of Jews on a scale of 12 times larger than what happened in Gush Katif.  And all because there is no ‘interest…'”

Among the prisoners are two brothers who planned an anti-Disengagement road blocking in 2005 using a burning car; three who were convicted of conspiring to attack an Arab girls’ school, though the bomb never went off and they claimed that they had only intended for it to be a scare; Haggai Amir, who had four years tacked onto his Rabin-assassination related sentence for planning partisan attacks against Arabs in defense of Yesha towns; David Emouyal of Rishon LeTzion, who is serving an 18-year prison sentence for having shot and wounded two Arabs in response to the murder of 8-month-old Shalhevet Pass in Hevron; Ami Popper, who killed 7 Arab workers in response to a series of Arab terrorist attacks (he was originally sentenced to life, but the late President Ezer Weizman reduced this to 40 years; Popper’s wife and son were recently killed in a car accident, and his two remaining sons, with no parents to look after them, have been given over to the foster care of a generous Jerusalem family); and others.

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