Arnold & Frimet Roth, whose daughter Malka was murdered by terrorists in 2001, responds to Shalit news

The following statements by Arnold and Frimet Roth are being published with their permission.  

The Roth’s 15-year-old daughter, Malka, was murdered (along with 14 other Israeli civilians) in a suicide attack at the Jerusalem Sbarros in 2001.

It has been reported that, among the Palestinian prisoners to be released in the deal approved by Israel to gain the release of Gilad Shalit, is Ahlam Tamimi, the terrorist sentenced to sixteen life terms in jail for her role in the Sbarro massacre.

Arnold Roth:

A government that seeks the defeat of the terrorists must refuse to release convicted terrorists from prisons. Israel has entered into transactions like this one several times in the past. If the plan was to bring terrorist attacks on Israelis to an end, then the release of those terrorists failed. We wonder why that lesson has never been properly internalized. Releasing imprisoned terrorists emboldens them and their colleagues. If they are captured, they know their imprisonment will be brief. By nurturing the belief that their demands are likely to be met in the future, you encourage terrorist blackmail of the very kind that you want to stop. Only the most unrelenting refusal to ever give in to such blackmail can prevent this.

If what I have just keyed in sounds vaguely familiar to some readers, there’s a good reason. It’s a paraphrase of page 144 of a 1997 book called “Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorists”. The author is Benjamin Netanyahu, and tonight we are astonished at the decision he pushed through the government.

Nothing is official yet but the murderer of our daughter and 14 other people, most of them women and children, is on the release list as we feared for years she would be. She has said in published jail-house interviews that she will be freed. She says she is not sorry for what she did. Her central role in the murders at the Sbarro restaurant have made her a hero. With her release, she will be a living inspiration to countless young Arabs desperate for a positive role-model in life. Is Israel ready for the consequences of that?

Has our government taken into account what the release means to families like us, and we are in the thousands, who have suffered the worst possible loss and now see the perpetrators dancing and prancing in the arms of their supporters?

Everyone wants Gilad Shalit home, safe and well. If we were his parents, we might have done what the Shalits did. But this is not the same as deciding, as prime minister or as the cabinet, what is good for the country, for the people of Israel. The jubilation emanating from the two Palestinian Arab governments tonight, the Hamas and the Abu Mazen regimes, should make clear to Israel’s friends everywhere that something dreadful has happened tonight. We may come to bitterly regret this transaction for years to come.

Frimet Roth:

Along with the entire nation, I am relieved and happy that Gilad Shalit will be returning home imminently. But I am shocked and deeply pained that this is being achieved by the mass release of cold-blooded murderers.

One of them is Ahlam Tamimi, a proud terrorist and the unrepentant murderer of my fifteen year old daughter, Malki. Tamimi transported the 10 kg. bomb, handed it to her accomplice and then led him on foot to the door of the target she had selected, Jerusalem’s crowded Sbarro restaurant. Seven men and women and eight children perished. 130 people were injured. She was sentenced to sixteen terms of life in prison.
Tamimi declared that she does not regret what she did. She actually smiled when told the number of children whose lives she took.

With today’s decision to free the terrorists, prime minister Netanyahu, a savvy politician to the core, conveys to us his disdain for the lives of ordinary citizens like my Malki; his disrespect for Israel’s justice system; and his lack of regard for the soldiers who faced death in order to apprehend the terrorists about to be freed.

Which rational soldier or police officer is going risk his life in the future to defend us from the monsters like Tamimi, sworn to murder still more Jews?

The prime minister is quoted this morning saying that his “heart goes out” to Israel’s many terror victims. His actions and those of his cabinet suggest otherwise.

How can they sleep at night, knowing the peril they have brought onto their people?

Arnold and Frimet Roth blog at This Ongoing War.

Malka Chana Roth, 1985 - 2001 Z"L

40 replies »

    • Pretz,

      I had an email exchange with Arnold Roth and he wanted his (and his wife’s) message about the impending release of his daughter’s murderer to be disseminated.

      And, I obliged.

      • OK, here’s an important Guardian connection:

        If Arnold Roth held a news conference at the American Colony Hotel, would the Guardian cover it? by Adam Levick


        ‘When you search for Rachel Corrie in the Guardian’s search engine you get over 150 results, some referencing the play which toured internationally named, “My Name is Rachel Corrie.”

        When you search for Malka Chana Roth, you get two – one in 2002 dryly noting her death in the context of a list of Palestinian and Israeli children killed during the Intifada till that time, and the other containing a partial list of the victims in the aftermath of the Sbarro attack, which noted:

        “Malka Roth, 15, from Ramot, on the western edges of Jerusalem, was the 15th victim to be identified yesterday morning.”

        That’s it. A mere twenty words.’

        There were no plays and no international media interest in the innocent teenage girl murdered by a movement so cruel as to venerate the murderer as a Shahid, a righteous martyr for the cause.

        I don’t think it exploitative, nor insensitive, to simply ask if, under any circumstances, the Guardian would ever offer Arnold Roth, or his wife Frimet, the chance to express their grief, describe their family’s unimaginable pain, or pay tribute to their daughter’s memory in a manner similar to what they continue to provide for the family of Rachel Corrie.’


      • Thank you, Adam. Mr and Mrs Roth’s message makes me cry and wonder if the death penalty is feasible.

        I read an enumeration of a similar prisoner release in the past that lead to 27 further murders. Maybe someone else can remember the circumstances of that release. Maybe the murderers of Koby Mandell and Yosef Ishran.

  1. I count six different pieces, including an Editorial, in The Guardian at the moment about the deal to release Gilad Shalit. Many of them are weighing up the pros and the cons of the proposed deal.
    Personally I find the views of those directly affected by the deal more informative, and certainly more illuminating about the pros and cons of the deal than the opinion and shoddy journalism of The Guardian hacks.

    • The journalism is way beyond merely shoddy. After all, this is a newspaper that has openly promoted the most anti-Semitic play to be produced in Europe since the liberation of Auschwitz.

  2. This deal is tragic for the Roth family, understandably. The concerns Arnold Roth raises about both future attacks by the very same murders, and the anguish to his family are real. The hearts of all decent people go out to him, and our wish for real justice is no less than his or Frimet’s

    Weighing against that is the anguish of Gilad himself, apparently kept in a dungeon like a prisoner in a medieval horror story, and his family. Many Israelis, who know that their lives will be just that much more dangerous after this exchange, feel nevertheless that the return of every soldier, dead or alive, is a sacred duty that Israel and Zahal have always held to be paramount.

    Keeping animals like these terrorists alive simply invites more kidnappings. I hope that those being released will never sleep without wondering if they will awake, nor will they walk down a street without constantly looking over their shoulders or at the sky for the retribution they deserve.

    There will be time for that, as there was to deal with Sheikh Yassin and others. But leaving Gilad captive will not bring Malki back, and his suffering and the suffering of his family, have been real and as anguished as those of all who have lost children and others to to terrorism. Agreeing to the exchange was a heart-rending choice, but one that had to be made, and many believe it was the correct one.

    • “This deal is tragic for the Roth family, understandably. The concerns Arnold Roth raises about both future attacks by the very same murders, and the anguish to his family are real”

      The emotional arguments are, or at least should be, secondary to the practical ones. This “deal” has placed all Israelis in grave danger. Once again, Melanie Phillips probably puts it best:

      “But the price that Israel has reportedly agreed to pay for his release is itself a terrible one which will have untold consequences. It will apparently release 1000 Palestinian prisoners, including 400 serving long sentences for some of the worst terrorist atrocities in the country’s history.

      For the IDF it is a moral imperative to bring home its fallen or captured soldiers. But the terrible thing is that by releasing 1000 terrorists back to Gaza and the West Bank, it makes it more likely that not just the Hamas but Hezbollah in Lebanon too will redouble their efforts to kidnap yet more Israeli soldiers in order to further this devilish barter.

      So while this deal – brokered by Egypt and Germany — redeems one Israeli soldier, it puts more Israeli soldiers at risk. Moreover, it strengthens Hamas in Gaza — they are already boasting that this is a great victory — makes it more likely that more Israelis will be murdered by terrorism in Israel, and demoralises those IDF soldiers who brought these 1000 terrorists to justice in the first place.

      And Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu knows all this. As the Jerusalem Post notes, in a book published in 1995 Netanyahu wrote that prisoner exchanges were

      ‘“a mistake that Israel made over and over again” and that refusing to release terrorists from prison was “among the most important policies that must be adopted in the face of terrorism.

      “The release of convicted terrorists before they have served their full sentences seems like an easy and tempting way of defusing blackmailed situations in which innocent people may lose their lives, but its utility is momentary at best,” Netanyahu wrote. “Prisoner releases only embolden terrorists by giving them the feeling that even if they are caught, their punishment will be brief. Worse, by leading terrorists to think such demands are likely to be met, they encourage precisely the terrorist blackmail they are supposed to defuse.”

      Worse still, it seems that Israel has now gone back on its previous opposition to such a deal, apparently because it fears that with Egypt about to turn hostile any chance of freeing Shalit would disappear out of the window. The Jerusalem Post reports:

      ‘The framework for this deal has been on the table for years, but was rejected as Israel demanded that the terrorists with blood on their hands be deported to Gaza or abroad, and Hamas demanded that all the names they submitted be on the list. In the final analysis, both sides showed flexibility, with Israel agreeing to let hundreds, but not all, of the released terrorist remain in the West Bank, and Hamas dropped some of the names on its list.’

      So now Israel will have hundreds of terrorists literally just down the road, presumably poised to strike yet again and murder more Israel innocents.”


      Compromised as she is by an utterly bankrupt political system and the decadence of a large secular class, I am starting to wonder whether Israel still possesses the will and the ruthlessness to survive.

      • To be fair, in the article linked directly above, Melanie Phillips also said this:

        “Either way, this was a terrible decision to have to take.

        On the other hand, once Shalit comes home the Hamas in Gaza will have lost their most valuable human shield of all. For five years, they have used their young Israeli captive — whose fate has been the focus of such public agony within Israel — to tie the Israelis’ military hands. Now, it would seem, all such bets will be off.”

        • “So now Israel will have hundreds of terrorists literally just down the road, presumably poised to strike yet again and murder more Israel innocents.””

          That road goes in both directions.

          Zahal is more than able to put its hands on these people when it wants to.

          • “Zahal is more than able to put its hands on these people when it wants to.”

            Because of the war crimes threat, Israel can no longer do what it used to.

            I cannot be persuaded that the life of one man or twelve men is worth far more than the security of an entire nation. Gilad Shalit’s freedom has been bought at a price that is far too high for any country that believes in self-preservation and the defence of all its citizens.

          • People tend to forget the chain of events regarding Nachshon Wachsman.


            The sad reality was that Rabin (apperently with the permission of Nachshon’s father) chose to attempt to rescue the soldier rather than exchange.

            As a result Nachshon and another elite officer were killed.

            Ahmed Yassin was asked to be exchanged for Wechsman as well as 200.

            Rabin refused. did this deter them to try and kidnap our soldiers?
            no it didn’t.

            “In 1989, Yassin was arrested by the Israelis and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 1997 Yassin was released from Israeli prison as part of an arrangement with Jordan following the failed assassination attempt of Khaled Mashal, which had been conducted by the Israeli Mossad in Jordan. Yassin was released by Israel in exchange for two Mossad agents who had been arrested by Jordanian authorities,[13] on the condition that he refrain from continuing to call for suicide bombings against Israel.”

            Guess which PM released him?

            And more importantly which PM assassinated him!


            My point is that the dangerous prisioners who were swapped will not have a day of peace…
            Some circles pose a question about death sentences to heavy terrorists.
            I oppose it personally however they say that it is cheaper to kill people with a needle than with an Apache missile.

            • “My point is that the dangerous prisioners who were swapped will not have a day of peace…”

              You put me in mind of those politicians who advocated a withdrawal from Gaza. If we do withdraw, they argued, then we’ll have free rein to hit back at the terrorists if they launch attacks against Israel from that territory. And the whole world will support Israel in those circumstances. Yeah, right.

              This is a sad day for Israel and the Jewish people.
              That many good men and women like the Roths have also had salt poured into their gaping wounds only makes it that much worse. And, yes,
              young Malka Roth deserved far more. The nation that failed to protect her during her lifetime has also now decided to spit on her grave.

              • You want to know what is sad.


                This is sad.
                Another young man who lost his family in the same restaurant chose to spray paint all over Rabin memorial square.

                As for saying that a day in which A Jew is returning safely to his home and country is a sad day, well, words cannot come to mind to describe this.
                Put aside the scum that is being released from Israeli jails.
                Their day will come in one form or another and every dog will get its day.
                focus on the return of one Jew, one Israeli, on soldier who lost five years of his life and possibly more as a result of such talk.

                We should all support him.

      • I am glad that you said “ruthlessness” Hoi Polloi, because that is what it will take.

        Israel cannot apprehend Hamas and Fatah as they might human beings, for I have real doubts that they are human. Human beings possess empathy first and foremost and these have none.

        On the one side we have the twisted mentalities of Hamas and Fatah which despise kindness, mutualism and the willingness to compromise as weakness and vie with each other to outperform in cruel retaliation. They are willing to sacrifice the lives of their children (indeed they often say so and proudly), to achieve the ends they wish for. They have little or no humanity to be capable of placing their children in such danger apparently without a second thought (the human instinct is to want to keep the young safe from harm), and they give them over to a brainwashing system which will inculcate hatred into them so as to ensure it is transmitted down the generations.

        On the other side is a powerful, intelligent and technologically advanced and robust nation which with mulish obstinacy refuses to accept that Hamas and Fatah animals cannot be trusted to behave trustworthily or humanely and that they dare not apprehend them from within the pluralistic, enlightened view point that they live by or they will lose.

        The only way for Israel to neuter Islamist terror is to be as ruthless in their treatment of Hamas and Fatah animals as they themselves could expect at the hands of Hamas and Fatah. This will send a message that no quarter will be given by Israel, but the terrorists are not good at learning quickly so many will die as a result. Of course there will be attempts to retaliate, some even successful, but eventually it will dawn even on this brainless scum that they are on a losing streak.

        Yes, I am arguing for matching like with like, Islamist brutality against Israelis with Israeli like behaviour against Islamists. Why? Because there can be no meeting of minds with these animals because they lack any concept of empathy or theory of mind which would allow them NOT to murder Jews if they got the chance. The danger for Israel, of course, is that she might become as animalistic as they, but that need not be inevitable.

        Bibi allowed himself to be placed in an invidious position and in my opinion he made the wrong decision, but I too want Gilad Shalit returned to the bosom of his family!

        But I also want to say “Never again!” Never again a young Israeli man or woman captured and held prisoner for years without access to medical treatment or international aid while the world bystands. Never again, and let the Israeli government mean it and show it by their actions in simply not keeping Islamist terrorist prisoners in their jails but trying them and executing them. If they are not in Israeli jails then they cannot be bargained for can they?

  3. I feel such sorrow for the Roth family, for all of the families of innocent victims of the Death Cult. I am happy for the Shalits, especially for the innocent boy who was kidnapped and had to suffer long years of torture and barbarity.

    It is all terrible, and unforgivable. The misery, heartache and pain inflicted on us by those who hate us just for who we are, is, words fail me.

  4. This lopsided deal is an outrage and just plain STUPID.

    Why now?

    Not enough pressure has been put on hamass by the US, EU, UN to force hamss to let the ICRC International Red Cross visit Gilad to make sure he is being treated humanely.

    What is going on to make such a deal with the devil/hamass necessary?

    Is there a plan to neutralize the islamofascist regime of hamass and iran in the offing?

    I hope so, because if not, Netanyahu has put all of Israel in peril.

    • If anything the timing may actualy strengthen Hamas.
      They needed it hence why they agreed to the swap without some key prisioners.

      some believe they have secured a safe seat for their leadership in egypt in case syria crumble.

      This is not so far fetched.
      The Turks played their part in securing the deal as well making the most out of it.

      This is why now.
      Hamas cares little about the EU, US and the Red Cross but cares more about their Arab naighbours and the Turks.

      Losing them will pain them.

  5. Nations are not only destroyed by atomic bombs or economic catastrophes, they are lost when they lose any reason to go on living. When they no longer have enough pride to go on fighting to survive.
    I wonder how many lives will be taken as a result of this shameful deal.

    • Did you count how many were lost between the kidnapping and the deal to compare?

      Doubt you’ll find much difference.

      But one more free Israeli is a difference.

      I wonder how many of you talk if your loved one was in Shalit’s shoes.
      I hope we’ll never know.

      • “I wonder how many of you talk if your loved one was in Shalit’s shoes.”

        If a close relative of mine had been murdered no doubt I would be in the forefront of those people who argue in favour of the death penalty. But I should be the very last person in those circumstances who should be listened to. I empathise with the Roths and the Shalits, but, as I argued earlier, it is the practical considerations above all and not the emotive issues which should be taken into account when making a decision about such matters. Penny (see below) hits the nail on the head:

        “on balance I think the safety of the majority has to be uppermost in this issue.”

        • I fully hear what you say.
          Us Israelis are emotional and nothing can change that.
          We belong in the ME on these grounds alone.. 🙂

          We are not rational and this is what makes us different and upsets the surrounding countries.

          When we show them that one of us worth a thousand of them they deep inside how worthless their scum is.
          They will refute it all they like, but they know it.

          At the moment Shalit family is happy and the whole of Israel is happy with them and wish them a Happy Sukot.
          We will bleed with or without this deal.
          they will try and strike us with or without this deal.
          We shall try and prevent them or strike back.

          This is our lives.

  6. “I wonder how many lives will be taken as a result of this shameful deal.”

    I wonder how many Malka Roths will be taken as a result of this shameful deal.

  7. I am not Israeli and I don’t have to live with the realities and consequences of terrorism. I suppose I have the luxury of an opinion, but thankfully, I’m not being asked to make the decision, and I really don’t think I could. It seems to be a gamble and no one can predict how it will work out. As with so many Israeli-related issues it’s damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

    If I were Gilad’s mother I would have fought till my dying breath with any and all means available to me to have my son home. For parents whose child is in hostile, cruel hands, every day must be torture. In this respect, Malka’s parents have faced the ultimate – they know the worst has happened to their child.

    On the other hand, a form of hell also begins for them when those prisoners are released. To know that they are being hailed as heroes, living free and evading justice would certainly haunt me. More to the point, and in a non-emotional sense – the loss of their daughter – and all those killed by terrorist attacks – is the awful lesson by which Israel has had to devise deterrents in order to create security for the majority. If I were Malka’s family that would matter.

    I think my not being Israeli affects any view I have because I’ve never had to live with the constant threats of terrorism nor have I had to send a child into the IDF. Both views I’ve read have compelling points but on balance I think the safety of the majority has to be uppermost in this issue.

    Overall, this dilemma really brings home to me Israel’s reality and how she is judged by others – individuals, intelligentisa and politicians – who have absolutely no insight into the moral maze Israel has to navigate every day.

    • Penny,

      I spoke about this to many english colleagues who are not Jewish and most share your views.

      Never the less,

      in this case, and until gilad is free and well home, Malka’s parents are “better off” as they do not live in the constant torture of the “not knowing” such as Ron Arad’s family and many more do.

      They know where their daughter is, what was her fate and where she now lies.

      Until gilad is safe home this cannot be said about him.

      The IDF has an obligation to every serving member like no army in the world has.
      We do bring each and every one of us home.
      with few exceptions we have so far succeeded.

      This is something few non Israelis understand.
      This is something debatable in Israeli society but something that we respect.

      • “The IDF has an obligation to every serving member like no army in the world has.”

        And that obligation when taken to an extreme, as now, is nothing short of lunacy.

        • The IDF, Unlike the US army and other armies, does fulfil its word.

          Every men counts.
          We have very few to spare.

          You may call it what you like.
          I call guarding 20 settlers with 20 soldiers (as a result) risking the soldier’s lives lunacy.
          Don’t you?

          I do not deny that this is a gamble.
          Every path Israel took was a gamble.
          Standing up to 7 armies in 48 was a gamble.
          Yet we took it head held high.

          The IDF calls and IDF for a reason. We have been nrought up in a defensive war and we are doomed to carry on like this until the Arabs see sense.
          Pray this will be sooner rather than later.

          • The IDF calls an IDF for a reason. We have been brought up in a defensive war and we are doomed to carry on like this until the Arabs see sense.
            Pray this will be sooner rather than later.

            excuse my typos.

  8. I have been mentioning Nachshon Wechsman for a while now and for a reason.

    That is reason is one of the -to be released “murderers, kidnappers and terrorists”.
    One name is Yahya Sanwar.

    He was the one invloved in the abduction and ordering the murder of Nachshon Wechsman.

    He was one of the founders of the military wing of Hamas.
    His brother was directly involved in Gilad Shalit’s abduction.


  9. “This is something few non Israelis understand.”

    I know. That’s why I’ve stressed my belief that all we non-Israelis have is a luxury of opinion. Without the context of living in Israeli society and understanding it, we can’t really know the nuances. And I’m pretty sure that Israelis have had a belly full of foreigners giving forth!

    But, for non-Israelis I do think there’s a really important lesson here. We aren’t members of nations that have lived under threat for decades. The UK has had a serious attack and several attempts at another, but we don’t live with this as Israelis do. We don’t have kids who know that they will have to serve in the forces and face hatred, war and the potential for kidnapping every day. We don’t have a population who also know its members are the subject of criticsm, condemnation, boycotts and all the rest – either because of who they are or because of a battle most in the West are fortunate enough not to have to understand. We don’t have the kind of moral choices Gilad’s case has brought to the fore. The West sits in its analyses without understanding the nuances.

    Perhaps one day we will find ourselves dealing with these types of dilemma and the moral mazes they will cause us to navigate. Perhaps then we’ll find out just how empty and facile were our criticisms of Israel.

      • Al Beeb and the Groan are cultural relativists. Except when it comes to cultures most like their own (ie. Western-styled nations) for whom there is only criticism and intolerance.

    • Blame Winston Churchill, he supported the creation of Israel and his legacy live’s on.

  10. In my view, admittedly limited in understanding of all implications, Israel and the USA need to make muslim violence too costly for them to continue. Japan during the second world war was of a similar mindset as muslims, in that they worshipped death over life. The dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, clarified their minds and they’ve not given us any trouble since. muslims need to be made to face up to reality in such a way. If one Israeli is worth one thousand (approx) muslim lives, then that is about the size of the price they must pay every time an Israeli life is taken by them. I’ll show some level of forgiveness once they have been totally defeated and crushed so that it takes a thousand years before they even start to think about reasserting their religious intentions on the rest of us.

    • What an absurd and hateful comment. The U.S. are waging a war on the pre-tence of stopping Saddam utilizing weapons of mass destruction against the populace of Israel and, potentially the U.S . They also implied that the Taliban and Al Qaeda (completely seperate entities) were in-leaue with Saddam. Have these proved to be true? No WMD’s have been found and the links between Saddam and the 2 terrorist cells mentioned above are very weak.

      You have to look at the Catholic indoctrinations that are ever present in the U.S. school and political systems. There are very strong reasons present to actually question why we are at war. I am British John, and also grew up in Cheshire. I do not support the war being waged in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the sooner we are out the better. I am ashamed to be of the same nationality as you because of your archaic views of the muslim world.

      • The Fake Philosopher,

        Did the late Muslim war criminal Sadaam Hussein of Iraq ever have WMDs?