January 31, 2004 Contact: (212)
Attn: NEWS EDITOR
ISRAELI OFFICIAL SAYS RELEASED PRISONERS WILL RESUME TERROR; ZOA URGES NO
MORE RELEASES OF TERRORISTS
NEW YORK- In the wake of an Israeli official's statement that the
terrorists whom Israel released this week will "very quickly" return to
terrorism, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is urging the Israeli
government to refrain from releasing any terrorists in the future.
Following Israel's decision to release 400 Palestinian Arab terrorists
in exchange for an Israeli businessman kidnapped by Hezbollah and the bodies
of three Israeli soldiers, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Jonathan Peled
said: "We're releasing the 400 Palestinians with very heavy hearts,
because we know that those Palestinians will very quickly return to the
cycle of terrorism." (New York Times, Jan. 30, 2004)
Although there is substantial evidence that many terrorists who were
released in the past subsequently resumed their terrorism, this is
apparently the first time that a senior Israeli official has stated publicly
and categorically that the Israeli government "knows" the terrorists it is
releasing will "very quickly" engage in more terrorism. Thus the release
of these 400 terrorists may well directly endanger the lives of Israeli
citizens, as well as the lives of the many American citizens residing in or
visiting Israel. Fifty-one American citizens have been murdered by
Palestinian Arab terrorists in Israel since 1993.
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, leader of the Palestinian Arab terrorist group
Hamas, said (Associated Press, Jan.30, 2004) said in the wake of the
prisoner exchange that his group "will spare no effort to kidnap Israeli
soldiers ... There is no solution to the prisoner issues except with the
kidnapping of soldiers of the enemy and exchanging them with our own
prisoners." ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said: "Any
government which knows that released prisoners will 'return to terrorism'
has an obligation to its citizens to keep those prisoners in jail.
Releasing terrorists rewards terrorism and encourages more kidnappings and
murders of Israelis, in order to obtain new Israel concessions and
additional releases of terrorists. It enhances the image of Hezbollah and
other terrorists in the Arab world. We urge the Israeli government to
refrain from the future release of terrorists, whether in prisoner exchanges
or any other circumstances. Granting freedom to those who will engage in
terrorism directly undermines the international war against terror."
* * *
The Zionist Organization of America, founded in 1897, is the oldest
pro-Israel organization in the United States. The ZOA works to strengthen
U.S.-Israel relations, educates the American public and Congress about the
dangers that Israel faces, and combats anti-Israel bias in the media and on
college campuses. Its past presidents have included Supreme Court Justice
Louis Brandeis and Rabbi Dr. Abba Hillel Silver.