The story of Ayman Sharawna, a Hamas terrorist from the Hebron area, should be of interest to all of us. In 2002, he was sentenced to 38 years in Israeli prison on charges of terrorism, including planting a bomb in Beersheba that wounded 19 people. Sharawna was set to serve a prison sentence until 2039 but was released earlier, in October 2011, as part of the Gilad Schalit prisoner swap.
Sharawna signed a pledge not to return to terrorism, but he could not restrain himself, so to speak, and in early 2012 he was once again arrested for terrorist activity.
Sharawna was not discouraged. He soon embarked on a 53-day hunger strike that led to street protests and became part of the larger Palestinian “prisoners’ struggle.” Israel was embarrassed. It succumbed to pressure and released Sharawna to the Gaza Strip for ten years, rather than have him complete his jail sentence.
Recently, Sharawna sent a clear message to those of us who are still naive. In an interview to a Lebanese television station, he said that he had once again returned to military action as part of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing.
The story of Sharawna, who is old for a terrorist, is pertinent because Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has insisted, as a precondition to negotiations, that Israel release more than 120 serious terrorists with blood on their hands, terrorists around Sharawna’s age, who murdered and committed crimes prior to the Oslo Accords.
The story is also pertinent because the U.S. is applying pressure and also because naivete continues to run rampant in our midst. There are those — for instance, President Shimon Peres — who have suggested that we respond positively to Abbas’ request.
Released terrorists like Sharawna have caused hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries in the past few decades, but Israel simply refuses to learn its lesson. Sharawna is not an isolated case. Hundreds have been released in prisoner swap deals. Gestures of goodwill have boomeranged against us in the form of dead and wounded. And the same is the case with terrorists from the Schalit prisoner swap, even though this time we were told that things would be different.
This past January, the Israel Security Agency arrested about 20 Hamas activists in the Hebron area. They were planning a series of abductions. Most of them had already served time in Israeli prisons, and their contact person was Housam Badran, a Hamas operative who had been released in the Schalit deal and exiled to Qatar.
In February, another Hamas terror base was exposed. This one was run by another terrorist released in the Schalit deal: Basel Himouni, who had been exiled to Gaza. In March it was revealed that Amr Dokan, another terrorist released in the Shalit deal, had tried to recruit Amr Barakat, a resident of Nablus, to carry out a shooting attack on the Nablus bypass road.
In May, a Hamas operative was arrested in the area of Ramallah. He confessed that a month prior he had been recruited to Hamas by Hisham Abd al-Qader Ibrahim Hijaz, who is responsible for the deaths of ten Israeli citizens and soldiers in several attacks. Hijaz was sentenced to ten life sentences, released as part of the Shalit deal, exiled abroad, and today he too lives in Qatar, where he is not content to rest on his laurels. All of this information is freely available. Anyone who reads the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center website will learn all of this and more.
Furthermore, we’ve almost forgotten this, but as part of the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority promised to hand over those who murdered Jews after the agreement was signed. The purpose was to highlight the difference between the period before the agreement and afterward.
Despite this explicit commitment, the PA has refused to extradite the murderers of Ohad Bachrach and Uri Shahor, who were murdered while hiking in Wadi Qelt. The same goes for the killers of Uri Megidish, David Boim and others. In the beginning, Israel still demanded that these commitments be honored, but after continually being rebuffed, it gave up and stopped asking the PA to fulfill its commitment.
Now Mahmoud Abbas and the PA have come along with a brazen demand to release terrorists from the period prior to Oslo. This, at a time when terrorists released in the Schalit deal and prior deals have returned to terrorism. No one has asked how those who shirk their commitment to hand over murderers for punishment dares to ask for the release of terrorists who are being punished, terrorists who often return to commit terror.