A number of prominent terrorist operatives released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap expressed readiness to return to terrorism, calling for abduction of more Israelis.

Logo and poster released by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades for the prisoner swap

Logo and poster released by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades for the prisoner swap

Freed terrorists at a welcoming display held by the Hamas military wing in the

Freed terrorists at a welcoming display held by the Hamas military wing in the

Ahlam Tamimi

Ahlam Tamimi

Hussam Badran at a press conference in Egypt following his release (www.ekhbaryat.net)

Hussam Badran at a press conference in Egypt following his release (www.ekhbaryat.net)

Yahya Sinwar gives a speech at a rally in the Gaza Strip

Yahya Sinwar gives a speech at a rally in the Gaza Strip




Logo and poster released by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades for the prisoner swap
Logo and poster released by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades for the prisoner swap
(Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website, October 21). The logo and poster emphasize the use
of weapons and violence to achieve the Palestinian objectives, which include the
release of terrorists held by Israel.

Overview

1. In the month since the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap, a number of released prisoners, some of them prominent terrorist operatives involved in mass-casualty attacks in Israel, expressed their readiness to go back to terrorism. Some of the released terrorists joined Hamas leaders in calling for the abduction of more Israeli soldiers—calls echoed by the Palestinian public—to use as bargaining chips for the release of all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

2. The several operatives who have made statements to this effect are not representative of all the released prisoners. It is also unclear to what extent each statement is indicative of genuine willingness to once again become involved in terrorist activity. Be that as it may, based on past experience of released prisoners returning to the circle of terrorism and given the background of some of those who made such statements, it can be assumed that at least in some cases there is a genuine willingness to return to terrorism. It is therefore our assessment that the population of released terrorists (particularly in Judea, Samaria, and abroad) may be perceived by terrorist organizations as a convenient operative pool for future recruitment.1

3. The statements made by the released prisoners, who enjoy enormous prestige in the Palestinian society, played into the Hamas media campaign which accompanied the prisoner swap. The release was portrayed as "an enormous victory and a historic achievement” in senior Hamas officials’ statements and the welcome given to the former prisoners. The prisoner swap was used for displays of military strength and speeches emphasizing the success of the "resistance” (terrorism) over negotiations and the determination to abduct more Israelis to free all the remaining prisoners. The campaign, in which Hamas claimed the achievement for itself, was particularly evident in the Gaza Strip, while in Judea and Samaria the PA worked to contain the Hamas support expressions.

Freed terrorists at a welcoming display held by the Hamas military wing in the
Freed terrorists at a welcoming display held by the Hamas military wing in the
Gaza Strip on October 21 (Izz al-Din al-Qassam website, October 22, 2011)

4. Even though the PA worked on the ground to contain the Hamas support expressions, as far as publicity is concerned the release of the prisoners was used to nurture the narrative of solidarity with them, regardless of what terrorist organization they belong to. Of particular note in this context was a show aired on PA television (October 27) named "In the house of the man of struggle”. The show paid an appreciation visit to the home of incarcerated terrorist Abbas al-Sayyed, a Hamas senior operative from Tulkarm, one of the highest-ranking Hamas members whom Israel refused to release. He was responsible for the Park Hotel terrorist attack in the Israeli city of Netanya, on Passover Eve, in which 30 people were killed and nearly 144 wounded, and which prompted Israel to launch Operation Defensive Shield. Filmed in the Al-Sayyed family residence, the show featured an interview with two female prisoners released in the recent deal, who held his legacy as a shining example to be followed.

Examples of statements made by released terrorists who expressed
their willingness to go back to terrorism

5. The following are a number of statements by prominent terrorist operatives in which they expressed their willingness to return to terrorism:

a. Ahlam Tamimi

1) Jordanian, from Ramallah, given asylum in Jordan after her release. Tamimi was the woman who drove the suicide bomber who carried out the suicide bombing attack in the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem (15 dead, nearly 100 wounded) and was involved in collecting intelligence for the attack. In an interview given to the Israeli media while in prison, she refused to express remorse for the death of innocent civilians in the Sbarro restaurant.

2) In a filmed interview for the Hamas website given on October 26, 2011, Tamimi was asked whether she would carry out a similar terrorist attack if circumstances allowed it. She said "yes” and added, "I will do it again, because the act came from deliberation, conviction, and faith in Allah, praise be to Him, because a jihad fighter [mujahed] always expects martyrdom [shahada], imprisonment, or success… I was imprisoned, I overcame that predicament, and now I’m free. Why would I regret it?!” (www.youtube.com).

3) During an interview given to the Jordanian media, Tamimi stressed that the "resistance” is the only way to "liberation”, and that Israel knows no other language than force (Ad-Dustour, October 27, 2007). In another interview she said that she will never regret taking part in the terrorist attack she committed (Sbarro) (Amman News Agency, October 19, 2011).

4) The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades in the Gaza Strip: The Brigades deal with directing the fighting against Israel, promoting the military buildup and in time of need enforcing Hamas control on the ground and suppressing opposition. It is headed by Ahmed Jaabari. The Brigades’ leadership commands the brigades and battalions throughout the Gaza Strip. It maintains close contact with the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip and Damascus.

Ahlam Tamimi
Ahlam Tamimi: "Why would I regret it?!” (www.youtube.com)

b. Hussam Atef Ali Badran:

1) Head of the Hamas military wing in Samaria, detained in Operation Defensive Shield in April 2002, was involved in planning the terrorist attacks in Netanya’s Park Hotel (30 dead and approx. 144 wounded), the Dolphinarium night club in Tel-Aviv (21 killed and some 83 wounded), and the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem (15 killed and approx. 110 wounded).

2) Hussam Badran, who following his release became the spokesman of the released prisoners deported from Judea and Samaria, referred to the released terrorists as "ambassadors of the resistance”. Speaking at a press conference in Egypt, he said that, just prior to the release, the Israelis made an attempt to persuade the prisoners to sign a document pledging to abandon what is referred to as "terrorism”. "We all refused that instruction, until the occupation surrendered and was forced to give up that demand at the last minute,” Badran said (www.ekhbaryat.net).

Hussam Badran at a press conference in Egypt following his release (www.ekhbaryat.net)
Hussam Badran at a press conference in Egypt following his release (www.ekhbaryat.net)

c. Yahya Ibrahim Hassan Sinwar:

1) Senior Hamas operative and co-founder of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing. Established the Hamas security apparatus in the Gaza Strip. Was involved in the abduction and killing of Nachshon Wachsman in Bir Nabala in 1994.

2) Yahya Sinwar pledged "to take serious action” to free all the prisoners, "whatever the cost” (www.dakahla.com). In a statement made at a welcoming reception in the Gaza Strip on October 18, Yahya Sinwar said he prefers to live as a fighter and die as a fighter. He stressed that the warning issued by the Israeli PM to the released prisoners not to return to the "resistance” will not make them stop operating (Safa website, October 19).

Yahya Sinwar gives a speech at a rally in the Gaza Strip
Yahya Sinwar gives a speech at a rally in the Gaza Strip

(Palestine-info, October 18, 2011)

d. Amna Muna, who in January 2001 murdered Ofir Rahum, a high school student she had met online. When she arrived in Turkey, where she was deported, she expressed her willingness to continue working for the "resistance” (Al-Jazeera TV, October 18, 2011).

e. Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss:

1) Suicide bomber, member of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who tried to blow herself up at the Erez crossing on June 20, 2005 using stockings filled with explosives. During questioning she said she had been sent by the organization to carry out a suicide bombing attack in an Israeli hospital, in a crowded place. In an interview to Israeli TV’s Channel 10, she said she had dreamed of dying for Allah ever since she was a little girl, and that her dream had been and still was to be a martyr (Channel 10, June 20, 2005).

2) Wafa al-Biss said that, if asked to carry out a suicide bombing attack, she would not hesitate. She further added that she is committed to keep following the path of "resistance”, the only way to eradicate the "Israeli occupation” (Al-Quds, October 20, 2011).

f. Nael al-Barghouti, the oldest prisoner. In 1978 he was convicted of murdering an IDF officer near the Halamish settlement and sentenced for life. He said that his release, as well as that of hundreds of other prisoners, proves the success of the "path of resistance”, which according to Al-Barghouti has prevailed over the "path of agreements” (alresala.net, October 18, 2011).

Calls for more abductions of Israelis

6. Some of the released terrorists joined Hamas leaders in calling for the abduction of more Israelis—calls echoed by the Palestinian public—to release all the Palestinian prisoners who are serving sentences in Israeli prisons. Several examples follow:

a. Senior Hamas operative Yahya Sinwar gave a speech at the main welcoming ceremony held in the Gaza Strip for the released prisoners. In his speech, he called on the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades to continue working for the release of all the Palestinian prisoners held in Israel (Al-Aqsa TV, October 18, 2011).

b. Would-be suicide bomber Wafa al-Biss called on the Palestinians "to abduct another Gilad Shalit every year” to free all the prisoners (www.qaweim.com).

c. Dr. Abd al-Aziz Amru, operative of the network that dispatched the suicide bomber who blew himself up in Café Hillel in Jerusalem, said in a speech given to a large crowd in the Islamic University of Gaza that the path of abduction has been proven useful, and that everyone is now convinced that it is the only way to free prisoners. He called on the prisoners who are still in prison to have patience and wait for news of their coming release (www.qaweim.com).

d. Nasr Yataima, who was involved in dispatching the suicide bomber to the mass-casualty terrorist attack in the Park Hotel in Netanya, said in an interview following his release that "the prisoners have to be freed only by force” (www.youtube.com).


1 This was hinted at by Isma’il Haniyah, head of the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, who announced that Israel made a strategic error by deporting some of the prisoners. "They have been and will remain a [force] of strategic assistance to Palestine”, he said, mentioning the deportation of Hamas operatives to Marj al-Zuhur, Lebanon, during the Rabin administration (www.alfath-mus.com).