Bereaved families group warns Netanyahu: ‘Freeing terrorists is declaration of war’

“Promoting such a move is a declaration of war,” says the Choosing Life forum.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

After reports surfaced last week that indirect negotiations for an arrangement with Hamas are ongoing, a forum of bereaved families sent a letter to the prime minister demanding that he make a public statement that no terrorists will be freed in any deal, Makor Rishon reported on Sunday.

“In any normal country, terrorists like these are executed, and they’re certainly not freed in hallucinatory deals that invite additional murders of Israelis,” wrote the group called “Choosing Life,” whose membership consists of families of civilians killed by Palestinians and those who managed to escape attacks with injuries alone.

Alluding to “rumors and articles especially from the Gazan side” about behind-the-scenes talks facilitated by Egypt, the group reasoned that “there is no smoke without fire,” and therefore wanted to warn the government not to continue in that direction.

“We, who have been burned in the Shalit deal [that freed over a thousand terrorists in exchange for tankist Gilad Shalit in 2011] … will not let [its] failure repeat itself! For us, promoting such a move is a declaration of war. We will not shut up. We will do whatever it takes, take to the streets to demonstrate, block roads, to save human lives from these terrorist monsters who are just waiting to be released and return to terrorism and the murder of Jews,” the group wrote.

One of the bereaved parents, Herzl Hajaj, told the weekly that there were several families in the forum whose loved ones were killed by terrorists who had been released in the Shalit deal, and “dozens of injured,” and that “they would not let any such deal go through.”

The prime minister’s office told the group in response that they would soon be invited to a meeting with the head of the National Security Council, said the paper.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met two weeks ago with the Goldin and Shaul families, whose soldier sons’ bodies have been held by Hamas since Operation Protective Edge five years ago. He met separately a few days later with the Mengistu and al-Sayed families, whose mentally ill adult sons slipped over the Gazan border in 2014 and 2015 respectively, and have been held there ever since.

In both meetings, he updated the families on the latest developments in the government’s efforts to return the captives.