Bereaved families slam release of notorious Palestinian terrorist

The release of an infamous Palestinian terrorist after a retrial has particularly upset families of terror victims. 

An Ofra man who lost his wife and five-year-old son in a firebombing attack in 1987 said the release of Haitham Faiz Muari Thursday left the families of terror victims feeling abandoned and scorned.

“We have asked countless times for families to be notified [about terrorist releases] before it comes out in the press, but it never happens. Apparently they don’t want to deal with the possibility that the families will object,” said Avraham (Abie) Mozes, head of the executive committee of the Representative Organization of Israel’s Terror Victims, a state-funded support group.

Roi Avrahami, son of Yosef Avrahami, who was lynched along with Vadim Norzhich by a Palestinian mob in Ramallah in 2000, confirmed that the family was not informed in advance. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit admitted that the army had only briefed Avrahami’s father and assumed that the latter would notify other family members.

Muari, a former Palestinian policeman, was sentenced to life in prison in 2004 for his involvement in the murder of Avrahami and Norzhich, IDF reservists who had strayed into downtown Ramallah in late 2000.

Video footage of a Palestinian man, later identified as Aziz Salha, raising his blood-stained hands in celebration after dumping one of the bodies out of the second-storey window of a Palestinian police station, where they Israelis had been held, became one of the iconic images of the Second Intifada.

Maari was released Wednesday following a retrial in February 2017. His sentence was changed from the original murder conviction to lesser charges.

Roi Avrahami told IDF Radio that despite his disappointment in Muari’s release, he expected that the Israeli security establishment would “settle the score” with Muari, noting that nothing can undo the past.

“None of these things will bring my father back to me,” he said.

Nevertheless, Abie Mozes criticized both the release and the lack of government or IDF communication with family members. “Apparently they don’t want to deal with the possibility that the families will object,” Mozes said.

“My heart is with them [the families]. I can certainly understand what they are going through. I am not only the head of an organization, I am a bereaved father, a widower, a father of two children who were wounded and I was wounded myself,” he said.

“At the end of the day, people who will really serve a life sentence are the family members, not the prisoners who will eventually be released,” he stated.

By: Andrew Friedman/TPS
Gili Elyahu Adler contributed to this article.