A group of Israeli families whose relatives were killed by Palestinian terrorists protested in front of the Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday in an attempt to block the release of some two dozen terrorists who have "blood on their hands."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed at the urging of the United States earlier this month to release 104 imprisoned terrorists in a bid to woo the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
More than two dozen of these terrorists are scheduled to be released later this week, prompting an Israeli-based group called Bereaved Families for Peace and Justice to launch a Sunday protest in Jerusalem.
"Secretary of State John Kerry has an agenda that he wants to promote peace in the Middle East, and I think that he somehow pressured or even blackmailed the Prime Minister of the Israeli government into releasing terrorists," said Yossi Zur, the group’s spokesperson. "They [U.S. officials] have emphasized again and again they want negotiations without preconditions, but they finally gave in and surrendered to this precondition of releasing terrorists."
Among those slated to be released under the deal is a terrorist who raped and killed a 13-year-old Israeli boy, as well as another terrorist who killed a Holocaust survivor.
The Bereaved Families organization is planning to hold a second protest on Monday afternoon outside the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv. More than 100 activists and victims of terror are expected to express their opposition to the deal.
"Here we are, and the negotiations didn’t even start yet, and we’re releasing 26 terrorists, convicted murders in two days," said Zur, whose son Asaf was murdered by a Hamas bomber while riding the bus in 2003.
"One of the things we want to say to Secretary of State John Kerry is that … the American government would never have released convicted terrorists for anything," said Zur, who added that it is wrong for America to pressure its closest ally in the Middle East.
"I’m very ashamed of my country Israel," Zur said.
Zur and more than 20 other Israeli families who have suffered deaths at the hands of Palestinian terrorists marched from the Mount Herzl cemetery, where many Israeli soldiers are buried, to Israel’s Supreme Court building.
They waved white flags of surrender as they marched "in order to protest the surrender of the [Israeli] government to the Palestinians and the American secretary of state who forced them to release terrorists before the negotiations have even started," Zur said.
The families maintain that it is unfair for America to force Israel into releasing terrorists when the American public would never permit a similar action by the Obama administration.
"The Americans today are still not talking to terrorists or releasing convicted terrorists, but yet they are pressuring us," Zur said. "If the Palestinians would really want to come to the table and negotiate, then they should come with clean hands and not demanding that murders would go free."
"We’re talking here about people who murdered women, children, old people," Zur said. "We’re not talking about heroes of any kind, but the lowest morals, people who have no mercy, people who are willing to kill anyone, and they proved it by killing women and children."
As opposed to past prisoner swaps, "this time is the first time that real murders are going out," Zur said.
More than 80 percent of Israeli Jews objects to the release deal, which many say would imperil Israel’s security, according to recent polls. Some fear that these freed terrorists will train and recruit of a new generation of killers.
Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin revealed on Sunday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) pays jailed terrorists more than $3,000 a month.
"I think we are, by continuing with this act of releasing terrorists, we are hurting the Israeli state, hurting the security and hurting the nature of the country," Zur said, lamenting the "bereaved families who have to see the murderers of their son’s walk out and go free."
Zur said that contrary to the Shalit deal that saved an Israeli soldier’s life, the most recent prisoner release has been approved ahead of a peace process that is likely to fail.
"The terrorists are putting a gun to the country’s head," Zur said. "Today we are releasing for nothing. We are just caving in and surrendering for nothing. We get nothing in return."