Signs purporting to be from the Israeli government were placed on dozens of military graves at the Mount Hertzl cemetery in Jerusalem on Tuesday, in protest of the impending release of 26 Palestinian prisoners later Tuesday. The release constitutes the second phase of a four-stage deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority meant to keep the US-brokered peace talks on track.
The signs, which read in Hebrew, “Sorry we forgot. For us, your death was in vain — [signed] the Israeli government,” were evidently placed by an anonymously run group, “Sorry We Forgot,” which maintains a Facebook page to document its activities. The group uploaded a video of the signs it placed on the graves Tuesday morning.
In an interview with Army Radio, a woman who is part of the group and who gave her first name as Ortal said the act represented the “cry of the victims [who were killed by Palestinian terrorists].”
“If we hurt anyone, we apologize,” she added.
Eli Ben-Shem, the chairman of Yad Labanim, the association of bereaved families of fallen soldiers, called the act appalling.
“This is a very severe act, it’s shameful and it hurts the families of the fallen. It’s an illegitimate protest,” he told Army Radio. “Red lines have been crossed, this is a desecration of graves,” he added.
Ben-Shem called for a full investigation into the incident.
Peace Now’s Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer called for the perpetrators to be prosecuted. “The use of the fallen soldiers and terror victims in a political campaign is a despicable, low act and it disrespects the deceased. They [the perpetrators] should be put on trial,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Almagor Terror Victims’ Association submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court Tuesday afternoon to stop the prisoners’ release scheduled for later in the night.
“The government did not bother to discuss the latest wave of terror in the West Bank over the past few weeks. It’s turning the other cheek even as we’re talking about the second phase of the release,” said Naftali Wertzberger, a lawyer working with the bereaved families who submitted the appeal. “Releasing terrorists only adds fuel to the terrorist fire. I’m optimistic and hopeful we’ll stop [the releases] ” he added.
Ahead of the first prisoners’ release in August, the organization’s appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court.
Earlier Tuesday, “Israel Forgets” wrote on its Facebook page that the day “will be known as a sad day in the history of Israel. We will do everything we can to stop this evil decree.”
The group, which was registered on Facebook last week, wrote in its description that “104 Arab terrorists are going to be released by Israel in the near future… leaving behind victims in cemeteries around the country,” referring to the total number of Palestinian prisoners to be released under the framework of renewed, US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“We are here to ask forgiveness… from those who were sacrificed, whom the government of Israel sold out cheaply, at the cost of forgotten lives,” the group wrote.