Israel Political Brief November 27, 2012: PMO Director-General Harel Locker Tours Communities in the Area Adjacent to the Gaza Strip and Ashdod

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PMO Dir.-Gen. Harel Locker Tours Communities in the Area Adjacent to the Gaza Strip and Ashdod

Photo by GPO

Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Harel Locker, who was appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to head the Government team on ensuring that the needs of the residents and communities that were affected by Operation Pillar of Defense are dealt with quickly, today toured communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip and Ashdod.

The team’s work in the days since the conclusion of the operation was presented at the discussion that PMO Dir.-Gen. Locker held today with the heads of the communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip (Sderot and the Eshkol, Sha’ar Hanegev, Sdot Negev and Ashkelon Coast regional councils) and senior officials from the relevant Government ministries, at the Eshkol Regional Council offices. He noted that in addition to the immediate response by the tax authorities regarding compensation for direct damages, the Knesset Finance Committee today approved directives on compensation for indirect damages (loss of work days and compensation for businesses). As per Prime Minister Netanyahu’s instructions, an outline for quicker-than-usual compensation was formulated and approved. Locker also said that a preliminary NIS 15 million aid package has been approved for local authorities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip. In education, a plan is currently being formulated on restoring lost classroom hours; the emotional needs of children and young people are also being met. The team also discussed ways to encourage commercial activity and tourism in the area.

Locker underscored the great importance of assisting area residents and local councils and asked all Government ministries to continue joining in the effort. “The fact that we are meeting for the second time within a few days expresses our commitment to the residents and communities of the south. We must work to quickly normal life,” he said.

In his meeting with Ashdod Mayor Dr. Yehiel Lasri and senior municipality officials, and after visiting a building that took a direct hit by a rocket, Locker said, “The directive from the Prime Minister, on whose behalf I have come here today, is to work for the welfare of the residents of the area and deal with the problems that have arisen since the operation in a generous, efficient and rapid manner and in a way that minimizes the bureaucratic process. There is no doubt that the strength of the city of Ashdod stems from the national resilience of its residents, as well as from the defense afforded by Iron Dome and other protective measures. Naturally, we will continue to assist in its development, economic prosperity and excellent functioning.”

The work of PMO Dir.-Gen. Locker’s team follows up on recent Government decisions such as those to approve full protection for all communities 4.5-7 kilometers from the Gaza Strip, to approve an allocation of NIS 7.6 million in order to complete the financing of building protected daycare centers in communities with 0-7 kilometers from the Gaza Strip and to approve economic benefits for Sderot and the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip for 2013. These decisions complete the strategy of national resilience in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip: A combination of diplomatic, security and civilian components that strengthens the fortitude of the residents and councils in the area.

Israel Political Brief November 27, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Meets with Southern Israel Local Council Heads

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PM Netanyahu Meets with Southern Local Council Heads

Source: PMO, 11-27-12

Photo by GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, yesterday evening, at his Jerusalem residence, met with local council heads from the south of the country and told them: “The IDF acted with strength, and as soon as the operation’s goals were achieved – we ended it. We will continue to closely monitor the situation to see to it that the quiet is maintained. If it is violated, the IDF is ready to respond strongly. I salute the residents of the south. Their resilience enabled us to achieve the goals that we set.”

Be’er Sheva Mayor Rubik Danilovich, at the start of the meeting, said, “This operation has a prominent achievement – Israel’s strong home front.”

Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Hare Locker, who was appointed by Prime Minister Netanyahu to head the Government team on ensuring that the needs of the residents and communities that were affected by Operation Pillar of Defense are dealt with quickly, said that in addition to the immediate response by the tax authorities regarding compensation for direct damages, the Knesset Finance Committee yesterday approved directives on compensation for indirect damages (loss of work days and compensation for businesses). Moreover, a preliminary NIS 15 million aid package has been approved for local authorities to cover expenses stemming from the security situation.

The following local council heads attended the meeting: Abu-Basma Regional Council Chairman Rahamim Yona, Ofakim Mayor Zvika Greengold, Ashdod Mayor Yehiel Lasri, Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin, Be’er Tuvia Regional Council Chairman Dror Shor, Be’er Sheva Mayor Rubik Danilovich, Bnei Ayish Mayor Mark Bassin, Bnei Shimon Regional Council Chairman Sigal Moran, Gan Yavne Mayor Dror Aharon, Hevel Yavneh Regional Council Chairman Eliezer Benfeld, Hof Ashkelon Regional Council Chairman Yair Firjean, Lachish Regional Council Chairman Danny Morviya, Nahal Sorek Regional Council Chairman Eli Escosido, Omer Mayor Pini Badash, Rahat Mayor Fayez Abu Dahiban, Ramat Hanegev Regional Council Chairman Shmulik Lipman, Sderot Mayor David Buskila, Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council Chairman Alon Shuster and Rishon Lezion Mayor Dov Tzur.

Israel Political Brief November 22, 2012:PM Benjamin Netanyahu Appoints PMO Director-General Locker to Head Team to Deal with Affected Communities and Residents

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PM Netanyahu Appoints PMO Director-General Locker to Head Team to Deal with Affected Communities and Residents

Source: PMO, 11-22-12

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, appointed Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Harel Locker to head the team that will deal with the communities that were damaged and the residents who were injured and to see to a quick return to normal life. The other members of the team are the director-generals of the Finance; Home Front Defense; Tourism; Social Welfare and Social Services; Agriculture; Negev and Galilee; and Industry, Trade and Labor ministries.

They will work in tandem with the ongoing work of the Prime Minister’s Office, National Security Council, and Home Front Defense Ministry in preparing the home front for security events of this kind.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “The resilience shown by Israeli citizens and the local authorities was an important component in achieving the goals of the operation. Residents’ needs must be seen to quickly and efficiently. I am aware of the distress and the needs, and we will deal with them. I am following the dealing with home front and I have directed all ministries to see to physical reconstruction, psychological rehabilitation and economic compensation quickly and without bureaucracy.”

Israel Brief April 24-26, 2012: Yom Ha’atzmaut & Yom Hazikaron — Israel celebrates 64 years of independence — Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars and Israel Independence Day

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Israel celebrates 64 years of independence  — Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars and Israel Independence Day

Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Celebrate Independence Day with Israel – live!

Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars and and Israel Independence Day
   
HatikvaThe national anthem: Hatikva Israel Independence Day is celebrated annually on the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, according to the Hebrew calendar, on 5 Iyar (this celebrated one day early because of the Sabbath). The day preceding this celebration is devoted to the memory of those who gave their lives for the achievement of the country’s independence and its continued existence. This proximity is intended to remind people of the heavy price paid for independence. On this day the entire nation remembers its debt and expresses eternal gratitude to its sons and daughters who gave their lives for the achievement of the country’s independence and its continued existence.

PM Netanyahu: “After Remembrance Day, the State of Israel will celebrate its 64th birthday. The unbreakable bond between Remembrance Day and Independence Day underscores the fact that our dear ones who fell in Israel’s wars did not fall in vain. Thanks to them, the State arose. Thanks to them, the State of Israel will continue to develop and prosper, and thanks to them the members of the younger generation will also be able to live their lives in security and tranquility.”

On May 14, 1948, the day the British Mandate expired, the new Jewish state – the State of Israel – was formally established in parts of what was known as the British Mandate for Palestine. With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Jewish independence was restored after 2,000 years.

Independence Day is a celebration of the renewal of the Jewish state in the Land of Israel, the birthplace of the Jewish people. In this land, the Jewish people began to develop its distinctive religion and culture some 4,000 years ago, and here it has preserved an unbroken physical presence, for centuries as a sovereign state, at other times under foreign domination. Throughout their long history, the yearning to return to the land has been the focus of Jewish life. Theodor Herzl, the leader and founder of the Zionist movement, increased international recognition for the need of a Jewish state.

Since its establishment, Israel continues to be a homeland to the thousands who make their way to Israel annually. It is home to some of the holiest religious sites of the three major religions, all which enjoy the democratic rights delineated in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel.


Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars

Remembrance Day, Yom Hazikaron, which begins on Tuesday evening, April 24, is a day of collective and personal anguish mingled with awe and honor for the fallen. The official events begin at 8:00 PM with a moment of national silence heralded by a one minute siren.  


Officer places a flag on a fallen soldier’s grave. (Archive photo: IDF Spokesperson)

A total of 22,993 men and women have been killed defending the land of Israel since 1860, the year that the first Jewish settlers left the secure walls of Jerusalem to build new Jewish neighborhoods.
Since the end of the War of Independence, 2,457 people have been killed in Israel in terror attacks – 14 in the past year.

In the past year, since Remembrance Day 2011, 126 members of the security forces – police, IDF, Border Police, Israel Security Agency and other organizations – have been killed in the service of the state.

On Wednesday, ceremonies commence at 11:00 AM at 44 IDF military cemeteries located throughout the country following a two minute blast of the siren. There will also be a ceremony for overseas Mahal volunteers who fought and died during the War of Independence, which will take place near the Sha’ar Hagai Junction. Israel’s flag, adorned with a black ribbon and memorial flame, is placed on each and every grave of those who fell in Israel’s battles and are buried in military cemeteries throughout Israel. It expresses the country’s respect for the fallen as well as the entire country’s participation in the grief of the families.


“The ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly…”
– In memory of those who have fallen while on duty in the Israeli Foreign Service
 

 

 David Ben-Gurion
declares the
establishment of
the State of Israel

Independence Day

Israel’s 64th Independence Day celebrations will commence on Wednesday evening, April 25, when the state flag is raised to full mast at a national ceremony on Mount Herzl, at which twelve torches are lit. Independence Day is filled with festivities and celebrations including picnics, barbecues, family gatherings and nature trips. Balconies, car windows, store fronts and more are liberally decorated with Israeli flags.

On Israel Independence Day, Thursday, April 26 between 9:30-11:00 am (Israel time) the central Independence Day festivities will take place at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, with the participation of the country’s entire top political-security leadership. For the first time this year, the President of Israel invites the entire Jewish people, in Israel and around the world, to take an active part in the Independence Day celebrations and to watch the ceremony broadcast live on President Peres’ Facebook page. At the conclusion of the event, the entire broadcast will also be uploaded to You Tube.

The event will start with a festive,  honorary flyover of combat planes and helicopters, immediately followed by a military review by the President and Chief of Staff of the 120 recipients of the President’s Outstanding Soldiers Award. Following the review, the main performance will take place on the lawn of the President’s Residence during which the President, the Chief of Staff, the Prime Minister and Defense Minister will sing their favorite Independence Day songs together with the IDF band  and with the background accompaniment of top singers and military bands. The President and Chief of staff will also give special Independence Day addresses during the Outstanding Soldier Award ceremony.


Israel celebrates 64 – Special greeting for Israel Independence Day from President Peres


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Greeting to Diaspora Communities for Israel’s 64th Independence Day


Population of Israel

On the eve of Israel’s 64th Independence Day, the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics announced that the population of Israel numbers 7,881,000 – of them 5,931,000 Jews (75.3% of the total population) and 1,623,000 Arabs (20.6%). On the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 the total population numbered 806,000. Today, over 70% of the total Jewish population are “Sabras” – born in Israel – compared with 35% native-born in 1948.

Since Independence Day last year 161,000 babies were born, and 19,000 new immigrants arrived in Israel. The total population of Israel grew since the 63rd Independence Day by approximately 137,500 – a growth of 1.8%.

In 1948 there was only one city in Israel with more than 100,000 residents – Tel Aviv-Yafo. Today, 14 cities number more than 100,000 residents, of which six number more than 200,000 residents: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Haifa, Rishon LeZiyyon, Petah Tiqwa and Ashdod.

Relevant documents and websites

Israel Political Brief April 25, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu: ‘When Sirens Sound, We are One Family’ in Yom Hazikaron Remarks

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Netanyahu: When Sirens Sound, We are One Family

When Memorial Day sirens sound, “We will all become one family,” Binyamin Netanyahu said as Israel remembers fallen soldiers.
Netanyahu lays a wreath on Memorial Day in Jerusalem

Netanyahu lays a wreath on Memorial Day in Jerusalem
Reuters

When Memorial Day sirens sound, “We will all become one family,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said as Israel remembers fallen soldiers and terror victims. A one-minute siren sounded at 8 p.m. Tuesday and a two-minute siren will sound at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

The Prime Minister recalled his brother Yoni, who was the commander and the only IDF casualty in the daring raid on Entebbe to rescue more than 100 hostages on a plane hijacked to Uganda.

“Like you, my dear brothers and sisters, on every Memorial Day I think of my dear fallen brother; I think about my parents who lost their beloved son, and about my brother Iddo, who lost his eldest brother,” he said.

Prime Minister Netanyahu also noted comrades who died when he was serving in the armed forces.

“I remember Chaim Ben Yona from Kibbutz Yehiam,” said the Prime Minister. “Chaim was an outstanding young man. He fell next to me while we were crossing the Suez Canal in the dead of night.

“I also remember my fellow soldiers Zohar Ben Linik and David Ben Hamo, both remarkable fellows who were killed during preparations for a military operation, shortly after we enlisted together to the Special Forces unit Sayeret Matkal.  I escorted Zohar and David, who were seriously injured, to the hospital, where they were both pronounced dead….

“David Ben Hamo died in my arms on the drive from the training ground to the hospital….  When they say that it’s the best ones who fall, they mean people like Chaim and Zohar and David.

“Decades later, I visited David’s home in Beer Sheva, and I went into his room.  The room was left exactly as he had left it the last time he was there.  For us, the bereaved families, time stops as soon as we get the terrible news. A brutal sword rips our lives in two, and our lives will never be the same.

In a separate message to bereaved families, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “It was the heartfelt duty of our dear ones that led them to face the enemy…. Today, the People of Israel lay aside disagreements and stand as one beside you.”

Remembrance Day is immediately followed by Independence Day – Yom HaAtzmaut. The Prime Minister remarked that thanks to Israel’s soldiers, especially those who fell, the State of Israel was reestablished.

“Thanks to them, the State of Israel will continue to develop and prosper, and thanks to them the members of the younger generation will also be able to live their lives in security and tranquility,” he told the families.

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 25, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at the Yom Hazikaron Memorial Service for the Victims of Terror on Mt. Herzl Military Cemetery

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PM Netanyahu’s Address at the Memorial Service for the Victims of Terror

Source: PMO, 4-25-12


Photo by GPO

The atrocities carried out by terrorists against our people know no moral boundaries, nor political boundaries.  The malice and hatred of the terrorists is insatiable.  One thing that these murderers all have in common is their desire to annihilate the Jewish people and to uproot it from its land, the Land of Israel.  They will not succeed.

We are here in Jerusalem, and we will remain in Jerusalem – our united capital, and the holy city of the Jewish people from time immemorial.  We will not move from here; we will not stop building; we will not cease creating; we will continue developing and strengthening our state, and living, growing and settling our children and grandchildren in it.

I see this determination engraved deep in our people.  I see it in the families of the fallen; I have seen it in the members of the Fogel and Ben Yishai families; I saw it in the families of those murdered in Toulouse; and I see it in you, in each and every one of you, the members of the bereaved families.

For 64 years, we have been steadfastly holding on to our country, and that is precisely what we will continue doing.  They kill and we build.  In the historic tally, the Jewish people has always prevailed over its bitter enemies.  They passed from the world, but we are here.  I know that the price that you, the members of the families, have paid is unbearably heavy.

So I want to express my own gratitude and the gratitude of the entire nation for your standing strong, and for your courage.

The memory of your loved ones will forever echo in our hearts.

May their memory be blessed.

דברי ראש הממשלה נתניהו בטקס האזכרה הממלכתי לחללי פעולות האיבה בהר הרצל

יום רביעי ג’ אייר תשע”ב

– הטקסט עבר התאמת עריכה –

מכובדי נשיא המדינה שמעון פרס,
יושב ראש הכנסת ראובן ריבלין,
נשיא בית המשפט העליון השופט אשר גרוניס,
שר הרווחה משה כחלון,
הרב הראשי לישראל, הרב יונה מצגר,
הרב הראשי לישראל הראשון לציון, הרב שלמה עמר,
הרמטכ”ל, רב אלוף בני גנץ,
המפכ”ל, רב ניצב יוחנן דנינו,
יושב ראש ההסתדרות הציונית העולמית, אברהם דובדבני,
יושב ראש הסוכנות היהודית, נתן שרנסקי,
ראש עיריית ירושלים ניר ברקת,
סגן הסגל הדיפלומטי, שגריר קמרון בישראל,
מנכ”ל הביטוח הלאומי, פרופסור שלמה מור יוסף
יושב ראש ארגון פעולות האיבה צביקה שחק,
אלופי צה”ל, קצינים, חיילים, שוטרים ומעל הכל המשפחות השכולות.

מעשי הזוועה של הטרוריסטים נגד עמינו אינם יודעים גבולות מוסריים ואינם יודעים גבולות מדיניים. אכזריותם ושנאתם של הטרוריסטים איננה יודעת שובע. אם יש דבר אחד שמשותף לכל המרצחים הללו, הוא שהם רוצים למחוק את העם היהודי מעל פני האדמה והם רוצים לעקור את עמינו מאדמתנו, אדמת ישראל. הם לא יצליחו בזה.

אנחנו כאן בירושלים ונישאר בירושלים, בירתנו המאוחדת ועיר קודשו של העם היהודי לדורותיו. לא נזוז מכאן, לא נחדל מלבנות, לא נחדל מליצור, נמשיך לפתח ולחזק את מדינתנו, לחיות, לגדל, ליישב בה את ילדינו ונכדינו.

אני רואה את הנחישות הזו טבועה עמוק בעמינו. אני רואה אותה במשפחות של הנופלים, ראיתי אותה אצל בני משפחת פוגל ומשפחת בן ישי, ראיתי אותה במשפחות הנרצחים בטולוז ואני רואה אותה אצלכם, אצל כל אחד ואחד מכם, בני המשפחות השכולות.

במשך 64 שנים אנחנו נאחזים במדינתנו וזה בדיוק מה שנמשיך לעשות. הם רוצחים ואנחנו בונים. בחשבון ההיסטורי גבר העם היהודי על כל צורריו. הם עברו מהעולם ואנחנו כאן. אני יודע שהמחיר שנגבה מכם, בני המשפחות הוא כבד מנשוא.

על כן, אני רוצה להביע את הערכתי, את הערכת האומה כולה לעמידתכם האיתנה, לגבורת נפשכם.

זיכרון יקיריכם ימשיך להדהד בליבנו לעד.

יהי זכרם ברוך

Israel Political Brief April 22, 2012: Israeli Cabinet approves Hall of Names memorial for Israel’s fallen soldiers, terror victims on Mount Herzl

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Memorial to Israel’s fallen soldiers, terror victims gets go-ahead

Source: JTA, 4-22-12

Israel’s Cabinet approved the establishment of a memorial on Mount Herzl to Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism.

The Hall of Names memorial approved Sunday will list the 22,993 names of those who have been killed fighting in Israel’s declared and undeclared wars and those slain in terrorist attacks. The names of the dead will be inscribed on bricks.

Also Sunday, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz visited the graves of three soldiers who recently died while in uniform, including 2nd Lt. Hila Bezaleli, who was killed last week when the lighting scaffolding collapsed onto the stage set up during a rehearsal at Mount Herzl for the annual Memorial Day/Independence Day ceremony. Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited Bezaleli’s parents.

The memorial hall, which is expected to cost nearly $11 million, also will serve as a venue for state ceremonies and official visits, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel has been talking about a central hall to enshrine the memories of the fallen for decades and “the time has come to make a decision.”

“We are a people that overflows with memory,” he said. “We are doing this out of deep recognition of the contribution of the fallen, and I hope that such places will no longer be necessary.”

According to official figures released in advance of this week’s Israel’s Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism, the total number of fallen security personnel and terror victims from 1860 to 2012 stands at 22,993, with 126 killed since last  Remembrance Day. There are 10,524 bereaved families of security personnel, 2,396 orphans and 4,992 widows of the Israeli military and the defense establishment.

Cabinet Approves Establishment of Hall of Names for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars

Source: PMO, 4-22-12

The Cabinet today unanimously approved the establishment of a ‘Hall of Names’ for the fallen of Israel’s wars, in the military cemetery on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, at a cost of approximately NIS 40 million.

The Hall of Names will, under one roof, enshrine the names of all those who have fallen in Israel’s wars and will serve as a venue for state ceremonies and official visits.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said that, “We have no central hall to enshrine the memories of the fallen of Israel’s wars.  After decades of talking about it, the time has come to make a decision.  We are a people that overflows with memory.  We are doing this out of deep recognition of the contribution of the fallen, and I hope that such places will no longer be necessary.”

Israel Political Brief October 18, 2011: Bereaved Families File Suit to Stop Terrorist Release

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Bereaved Families File Suit to Stop Terrorist Release

Source: Virtual Jerusalem, 10-18-11
shalitRelatives of victims of terrorist attacks have filed an emergency lawsuit against the release of terrorists in exchange for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. The suit was filed with the help of the Almagor organization for victims of terror.
The government has agreed to release more than 1,000 terrorists in exchange for Shalit, including murderers and those who took part in previous kidnappings of IDF soldiers. The release deal has been controversial, with some warning that it will cause a wave of terrorism, while others argue that the state has an obligation to return kidnapped soldiers.

The families of those murdered in the Sbarro spearheaded a suit against the release and have launched a campaign to remove the Sbarro murderess who drove the bomber to the site from the list of those to be released.. Fifteen people lost their lives in the suicide bombing. The number to call to join the campaign is 0524239870.

Among those filing suit is Hovev Nuriel, whose father Sasson was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in 2005. The terrorists who murdered Sasson are to be released in the exchange.

Nuriel spoke to Arutz Sheva on Friday and explained that his primary concern is not for his own family, but for future victims.

“This [prisoner exchange] deal will lead to the loss of hundreds of lives, and will create more bereaved families and add to the pain and loss suffered by thousands of Israelis,” he said. “The deal sends the message that it is possible to deal with Israel through kidnapping and murder of Israeli citizens.”

“I know my father is not coming back,” he continued, “I am not speaking from a place of revenge, but rather, from solidarity. I am concerned for every citizen of Israel who could be hurt, whether by these same murderers or by other terrorists who get the message that they can continue to murder – because that is the message that the state and the government are sending.”

Another issue is justice, he said. “Where is the meaning of the judges’ verdict? Where is the justice in the state of Israel?” Murderers sentenced to life in prison are to be released after serving fewer than five years in prison, he noted.

Sayeed Ibrahim Mohammed Shalada, who stabbed Sasson Nuriel to death while the latter’s hands were tied, was sentenced to life in prison in 2007. In their verdict, the judges wrote, “The perpetrator took a person’s life with his own hands, acting calmly and with great cruelty. His actions force us to put him behind bars for the rest of his life.”

via israelnn.com

Israel Political Brief October 17, 2011: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Letter to Families of Victims of Shalit-Deal Prisoners

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Netanyahu writes to families of victims of Shalit-deal prisoners

Source: JTA, 10-17-11

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote to family members of the victims of attacks perpetrated by some of the 1,027 prisoners to be released in return for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

In the letters issued Monday, Netanyahu tells the families that he understands their “negative feelings” toward the deal because of the death of his brother Jonathan, who was the sole casualty of the 1976 Israeli operation to free hostages at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda.

“In my many deliberations throughout the negotiations, you were always on my mind,” he wrote, according to the Prime Minister’s Office. “The decision to release Gilad Shalit was one of the most difficult ones I have ever made. It’s difficult for me for the same reason it’s difficult for you, dear family members.

Dozens of those families and other protesters marched Monday morning to the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, where a three-justice panel convened to hear petitions opposing the deal. The release of the Palestinian prisoners is scheduled to begin Tuesday; Shalit is to gain his freedom on the same day.

The petition was filed by the Almagor Terror Victims Assocation, which asked the court to cancel the prisoner swap deal. The association also asked the court to delay the releases to allow more time to study the list and make objections. Several families also have filed separate petitions against the release of particular prisoners.

Shalit’s father, Noam, also attended the proceedings and submitted his own response to the petitions, arguing that “any change in its delicate framework could torpedo the entire deal.”

The Prime Minister’s Office also announced Monday that Gilad Shalit will be promoted to the rank of sergeant-major in time for his release, which is expected to come Tuesday. He was a corporal when he was captured in a cross-border raid in June 2006, and since then has been promoted twice.

 

Letter from PM Benjamin Netanyahu to Bereaved Families

Source: PMO, 10-17-11

Dear Families,

I write to you with a heavy heart.  I understand and know your pain.

I belong to a bereaved family of the victims and fallen of terrorism.  By brother was killed in the operation to rescue the Entebbe hostages.

I know that you have a heavy heart and that your wounds have been opened anew these past days; that your thoughts are not at ease.

Numerous misgivings accompanied me throughout the negotiations on the agreement to return the abducted soldier Gilad Shalit.  You were always in my thoughts.

The decision in the matter of the release of Gilad Shalit was among the most difficult that I have ever made.  It is difficult for me for the same reasons that it is difficult for you, dear families.

In the decision to return Gilad home, I was faced with the responsibility of the Prime Minister of Israel to bring home every soldier who is sent to protect our citizens.

I also, when I went off to fight in the name of the State of Israel, knew always: The State of Israel does not abandon its soldiers and citizens.

Opposite the strong desire to return home a captive soldier, was the need to limit the heavy price that the State of Israel would have to pay upon the abduction of Gilad Shalit over five years ago.

I know that the price is very heavy for you.  I understand the difficulty to countenance that the evil people who perpetrated the appalling crimes against your loved ones will not pay the full price that they deserve.

During these moments I hope that you will find solace that I and the entire nation of Israel embrace you and share your pain.

Your loved ones will forever be in my heart,

Yours in pain and deep sorrow for your loved ones,

Benjamin Netanyahu

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