Why Did Netanyahu Free My Daughter's Killer?

Mother Blasts Prisoner Exchange To Free Gilad Shalit

Hurtful Deal: Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit salutes after being freed by Hamas. Scores of convicted terrorists were freed in the deal to win his release, including a convicted terrorist who killed Malki Roth.
getty images
Hurtful Deal: Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit salutes after being freed by Hamas. Scores of convicted terrorists were freed in the deal to win his release, including a convicted terrorist who killed Malki Roth.

By Frimet Roth

Published November 30, 2011, issue of December 09, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

Malki, in October you would have turned 25, if only… if only you hadn’t stopped in at the Sbarro restaurant in the center of Jerusalem with your best friend, Michal, that hot summer afternoon of August 9, 2001.

You were on your way to a camp counselors’ meeting but had some time to spare. At 2 p.m., while you both stood on line, waiting to order, a Palestinian Arab man finished his meal, stood up and detonated the explosives concealed in his guitar case. Fifteen men, women and children perished.

Malki Roth was 15 when she was killed in the Sbarro suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 2001.
courtesy of roth family
Malki Roth was 15 when she was killed in the Sbarro suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 2001.

In recent weeks, the pain we have endured for 10 years has become even more intense. We can thank Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for that. Despite our hand-delivered entreaties to keep your murderer, Ahlam Tamimi, in prison — to which Netanyahu never responded — he freed her in the prisoner exchange deal that led to the release of Gilad Shalit. The letter of “explanation” he claimed publicly in October to have mailed to all the affected terror victim families has, for some reason, not yet reached us.

Malki, you never saw your murderer. By her own account, Tamimi scouted Jerusalem for days before she selected the target. She then transported a 10 kilogram bomb and led the suicide bomber to the site. Later, in prison, she smiled for the cameras when she learned that not three (as she had thought) but eight children were among the victims. She proclaimed repeatedly, “I am not sorry for what I did…. I would do it again.”

The judge who sentenced her to 16 life terms appreciated the depths of Tamimi’s evil. In handing down the sentence, he recommended that she never be included in any prisoner exchange. But our prime minister, rejecting those considered rulings, repatriated this woman to her father and brother in Jordan — and assured the public that she had been “exiled.”

Adding salt to our wounds is an avalanche of revelations about the Shalit saga, which was unleashed the moment Gilad returned home.

Ronen Cohen, who recently stepped down from leading the counter-terrorism unit in military intelligence, spoke to Haaretz and Israeli television on the day that Shalit was freed. He declared that the handling of Shalit’s captivity “was a resounding failure of the IDF. There are no other words to describe it. The IDF never took responsibility for the soldier and did not even set up a team to deal with bringing him back. They simply passed it on to the Shin Bet [security service].”

Cohen continued, “It may also be that during [Operation Cast Lead in December 2008] it was still possible to do something under the cover of the chaos of the fighting, but it was not done.”

When asked in the television interview about the government’s assertions that it had insufficient intelligence on Gilad, Cohen countered: “Intelligence is not passive but must be activated. It never was.”

Malki, when I heard this I cried bitterly. Our leaders had betrayed you and us yet again.

Additional critics of the mass release of murderers have now come out of the woodwork. Anshel Pfeffer wrote in Haaretz: “Shalit’s capture… was a colossal operational blunder, at just about every level…. His eventual release was a victory primarily for the other side’s negotiators.”

When Maariv journalist Ben Caspit spoke to Yitzhak Mordechai, a former defense minister and operating commander of the southern, central and northern commands, Mordechai told him that it was only when the worsening condition of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel became an issue in Gaza that Hamas was willing to negotiate.

Caspit then asked a question that haunts us, Malki. Referring to the astonishingly indulgent treatment that had been accorded to terrorists in the Israeli prison system, he wondered what would have happened if the authorities hadn’t waited so long to take away the perks that turned these prisoners’ incarceration into the equivalent of summer camp. “Too bad no one thought to explore this option in real time,” Caspit said.

These disclosures have hardly had an impact on the majority of Israelis. Some 80% bought Netanyahu’s absurd assertion that releasing 1,027 unrepentant, tried and convicted terrorists in return for one soldier is a “victory,” a show of our “moral superiority.”

It is nothing less than suicidal to place our trust in a leader who has sacrificed his nation’s security and its judicial system for political gain.

Malki, please know that we have not given up the fight. We will seek an investigation into the disastrous handling of the Shalit affair. We still hope for an apology from our prime minister for his role in this travesty of justice.

Your murderer has told Jordanian reporters, “All I dream about now is to live with Nezar [another freed terrorist], settle down and raise our future children.”

We will not rest until her dreams are dashed and she is back in prison. We will pursue that goal not to seek revenge or to ease our relentless longing for you, but simply because it is the only just and sane thing for a democratic state to do.

Frimet Roth is a freelance writer based in Jerusalem. After her daughter’s murder, in 2001, she and her husband founded the Malki Foundation (www.kerenmalki.org), which provides support for Israeli families of all faiths who care for a special needs child.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.