Yasser Arafat possessed has passed away, but he is probably rejoicing at recent developments inside Israel.
On June 2, Israel released 398 Arab prisoners as what Ariel Sharon called “part of Israel's efforts to assist Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and the moderate forces in the Palestinian Authority.” This makes 900 prisoners released in 2005, preceded by more than a thousand released since Sharon’s election as prime minister in February 2001.
Out of Sharon’s 21-member cabinet, only three members voted against the latest releases: Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Health Minister Dan Naveh, and Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz. Of those released, 170 committed shootings and bombings.
In addition, Ha’aretz recently reported that Sharon “has instructed Justice Minister Tzipi Livni to prepare for the release of veteran Palestinian prisoners who have ‘blood on their hands.’”
For an idea of what this means for Israeli security, consider Waseem Akab Khalil Mantzur and Atzam Mantzur.
Released in 2003 after imprisonment for shooting attacks, in February the Israeli military arrested Waseem Akab Khalil Mantzur for involvement in attacks including an attempted massacre of Jews in Bracha near Nablus. Released in January 2004, on February 16 the military killed Atzam Mantzur and fellow terrorist Mahyub Yusef Kiny while planting a bomb in Bracha.
Another terrorist the Sharon administration previously released was Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades commander Suleiman Abu-Mutlak, who participated in the November 2000 bombing of a school bus that murdered two Israelis and maimed several children. The parents of three of the children remarked, “Our children don’t have legs, and they release him?”
Islamic Jihad member Hassan Abu Armana was among the 500 prisoners released in February as a “confidence-building” measure for Mahmoud Abbas. He remarked, “There will be no peace, no security, no stability without the release of all prisoners.” Hamas leader Hassan Yousef likewise declared to a crowd, “There will be no peace as long as there is a single prisoner in Israeli jails.”
Senior Abbas aide Tayyeb Abdel-Rahim said of the latest releases, “this is not enough. All prisoners should be released.”
Those are real confidence-building sentiments.
Today’s terrorists commit mass murder to protest Israeli soldiers in Gaza City, Nablus, etc. Tomorrow it will be to protest the imprisonment of their “heroes”; or Israel’s refusal to commit suicide through “the right of return”; or Israel’s “occupation” of Jerusalem.
The least a government should do is not increase the ranks of its citizens’ enemies. It is a perplexing horror that the general associated with protecting Israel for generations has become the preeminent liberator of Israel’s enemies.
The planned evacuation of the Gaza Strip has obscured Sharon’s serial empowerment of terrorists and endangerment of Israeli lives. As the citizens whose settlement Sharon encouraged face dispossession, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups have received an infusion of strength.
Israel’s Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty states, “All persons are entitled to protection of their life, body, and dignity.” The Sharon government has abandoned its primary duty of protection, and Israelis who value the safety and themselves and their loved ones must view this as reckless leadership.
 Tovah Lazaroff, “Abbas: Suicide bomb era may be over,” The Jerusalem Post, May 30, 2005, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1117333099940.
 See http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L02399576.htm.
 “Prisoner Release to Include 170 Bombers and Shooters,” Israel National News, May 31, 2005, http://www.arutzsheva.org/news.php3?id=83003.
 Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular, “PM orders release of prisoners who killed Israelis,” Ha’aretz, May 31, 2005, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/582350.html.
 “Freed Terrorist Arrested Again,” Israel National News, February 24, 2005, http://www.israelnationalnews.com/print.php3?what=news&id=77437.
 Quoted in Michael Freund, “Remember Entebbe?” The Jerusalem Post, July 9, 2003, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/Printer&cid=1057723797491.
 “Bush insists Middle East peace is ‘immediate goal,’” The Daily Star, February 22, 2005, http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=2&article_ID=12874.
 “Palestinians welcome freed prisoners,” Associated Press, February 22, 2005, http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2005/2/21/215244.shtml.
 “Israel releases 400 prisoners but Palestinians say gesture insufficient,” The Daily Star, June 3, 2005, http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=2&article_id=15627.
 Sharon said as late as 2002, “Netzarim [a Jewish town in Gaza] is the same as Negba and Tel Aviv. Evacuating Netzarim will only encourage terror and increase the pressure on us.” Quoted in Michael Ratzon, “Likud’s moment of truth II,” The Jerusalem Post, October 20, 2004, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1098245485301&p=1006953079865.
 Sharon recounts in his autobiography after leading an anti-terrorism operation in Gaza in 1971 and 1972: “When a special cabinet committee visited me for a briefing on the anti-terrorist effort, I described the various military measures we were taking. I also recommended the establishment of several Jewish settlements, Jewish ‘fingers,’ as I called them, to divide the Gaza district. I wanted one between Gaza and Deir el Balah, one between Deir el Balah and Khan Yunis, one between Khan Yunis and Rafah, and another west of Rafah—all of them built, like the Judean and Samarian settlements, on state-owned land. Standing with the cabinet members on a high hill of dunes, I pointed out exactly what I thought we needed. If in the future we wanted in any way to control this area, I told them, we would need to establish a Jewish presence now.” Ariel Sharon with David Chanoff, Warrior: An Autobiography (New York: 1989), p. 258.
 See http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Politics/Basic_Law_Human_Dignity_and_Liberty.html.