by Dr. Haim Shine
Hatam Faiz Khalil Magari, a Palestinian police officer who was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the lynching, was released -- after his sentence was reduced to 11 years, which he has already served, in a retrial.
Arab terrorism, which has accompanied the Jews' return to Zion for more than 120 years, is extremely cruel. Outlaws, terrorists and heartless murderers have regularly unleashed indiscriminate acts of terrorism on women, children and the elderly, seeking only to kill and terrorize. But without a doubt, one of the worst and most horrifying attacks of the Second Intifada was the lynching of two Israel Defense Forces reservists, Vadim Nurzhits and Yossi Avrahami, in Ramallah in 2000.
The two reservists had accidentally wandered into the Palestinian city of Ramallah, and Palestinian Authority police officers led them to their deaths, taking an active role in the killing.
Despite the many years that have gone by, the image of the killers' bloody hands and the cheering mob surrounding the mutilated bodies of the soldiers in Al-Manara Square have been indelibly embedded into the Israeli collective memory.
The Palestinian Authority went to great lengths to erase the barbaric incident from memory. An Italian television crew captured the event and it was aired for the whole world to see. The mutilation of the soldiers' bodies undoubtedly encouraged additional acts of terrorism and dealt a tangible blow to the Israeli military's power of deterrence in the war on terrorism. Following the incident, the Israeli government toughened its positions and countermeasures against terrorists.
Hatam Faiz Khalil Magari, a Palestinian police officer who was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the lynching, was released on Wednesday after his sentence was reduced to 11 years, which he has already served, in a retrial. The circumstances of his release are puzzling and raise serious questions about the judicial discretion that was used.
If Magari was in fact complicit in the murders and took part in the lynching, why is he being freed? The message that his early release conveys to would-be terrorists is that the Israeli judicial system hands down lenient sentences for heinous crimes. If indeed evidentiary problems emerged that cast doubt on his conviction, why has it taken so many years to discover them? This really calls into question the judicial system's impartiality when terrorists are concerned.
The families of these soldiers, murdered in cold blood, are entitled, like all other citizens, to a detailed explanation of the reasons behind Magari's release.
The convicted murderer will soon become a hero on the Palestinian street. We will soon see kindergarten-aged Palestinian children waving their hands, painted red, emulating the murderer and his blood-stained hands. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will invite the killer to meet with him and his family will continue to receive payments, like the families of all terrorists serving time in Israeli jails.
This calls for an objective judicial body to examine the circumstances of this case, particularly the legal procedures that led to the plea bargain that resulted in Magari's release. This is not the way to defend ourselves against terrorism, and it is certainly not the way to build a just judicial system.
Dr. Haim Shine
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