Last week, our government sent my daughter’s murderer, Ahlam Tamimi, a pre-wedding gift.
Tamimi, the woman who engineered the 2001 massacre in Jerusalem’s Sbarro restaurant, was released from prison by the Israeli government in October 2011. Along with 1,027 other terrorists, many of them murderers like her, she was freed to secure the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Since then, she has been explicitly inciting audiences throughout the Arab world to further acts of terror.
Nevertheless, on June 7, Israel chose to deliver her the man to whom she became betrothed by proxy in prison some years ago. Like Tamimi, her fiancé and cousin Nizar al-Tamimi is a murderer, serving a life sentence until he too was freed in the Shalit transaction.
My daughter Malki, 15, was among the victims of the Sbarro massacre. For years, aware of the pressure from Hamas to see Ahlam Tamimi freed, my husband and I wrote and spoke at every opportunity about the danger and injustice of that move.
Even now, it is beyond our comprehension how the Netanyahu government could have included her in the swap. In the days following the release, revelations about alternate and feasible means – ones never pursued by our leaders – to rescue Shalit, deepened our pain. Now we are reeling from this fresh outrage.
Perhaps aware of the Tamimis’ wedding plans, Israel’s release of al-Tamimi in October 2011 stipulated that he remain in the area controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Any attempt to leave would amount to a violation, subjecting him to re-arrest and re-imprisonment for life.
Three weeks ago, the Arab media reported that al-Tamimi presented himself at the Allenby Bridge seeking to enter Jordan and was refused. Ahlam Tamimi claimed the Israelis had agreed to allow her fiancé to join her and then reneged.
The matter received no local coverage, so we contacted the Shabak, Israel’s General Security Service, on May 22. We asked whether Tamimi’s claim was accurate. Despite several follow-up phone calls and e-mails, it was June 6 when a response finally arrived by fax from the Prime Minister’s Office. It curtly stated that “after consideration” permission had been given for Nizar al-Tamimi to go abroad subject to his undertaking to remain away for five years. It said he had not yet departed.
We immediately retained a lawyer to petition the High Court of Justice – in Hebrew, the Bagatz – to have this decision reversed. We sent all the Bagatz papers and affidavits to the Prime Minister’s office and the Ministry of Justice. In addition, we faxed and emailed a personal letter to Netanyahu begging him to reconsider this move.
We asked the government’s lawyer to agree to close the borders to Nizar al-Tamimi pending the urgent High Court hearing. We never imagined how ridiculous that request was. The following day, the government’s lawyer responded to ours with the news that Nizar al-Tamimi had been allowed to cross over to Jordan three days earlier.
The disdain of these government representatives should not have surprised us.
Prime Minister Netanyahu himself has been nothing short of contemptuous towards victims of terror like us before, during, and after the Shalit transaction. He ignored our two desperate pleas for Ahlam Tamimi’s name to be removed from the list of prisoners to go free in the Shalit deal. The first of those was hand-delivered to him four months before he caved in to Hamas’ demands. The second letter was published in the Hebrew and English editions of the Haaretz newspaper days before the release. Neither one elicited any response.
We have based our actions on principles of justice and security for all Israelis. Politics plays no role. Perhaps this is why Mr. Netanyahu has never deigned to answer us. A political creature to his very core and a terribly busy man, he has no time for citizens who do not advance his career.
Though he clearly has Iran on his mind, we know the PM does make time for less-than-earth-shattering matters. Some recent examples:
-On March 28, he spoke to windsurfer Lee Korzits, who won the RS:X Windsurfing World Championship in Cadiz, Spain. “Congratulations Lee, you have honorably and successfully represented both yourself and the State of Israel,” said the PM. “You are a champion, the best in the world. I and all of Israel hope that you will also win a gold medal at the London Olympics.”