WASHINGTON, March 2 (JTA) Like a high-tech “Wanted” poster, a State Department-run Web site offers a $5 million reward and lists the names of many notorious terrorists.
But none of the names are those of Arab terrorists suspected of killing American citizens in Israel or Palestinian-controlled territory, critics say.
Marking the four-year anniversary of the deaths of Matt Eisenfeld and Sara Duker, who were killed by a suspected Hamas bombing of a Jerusalem bus, survivors and families of terror victims say the State Department is not doing enough.
“Matt and Sara’s names are absent and rewards for terrorists not offered,” said Matt’s father, Dr. Leonard Eisenfeld, referring to the site. “Peace can only exist alongside justice.”
The Rewards for Justice Web site, www.heroes.net, is serving as an interim homepage for the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service. According to the site, rewards totaling millions of dollars have been paid in dozens of cases. The program was established in 1984, and the Web site has been active since 1995.
State Department spokesman Andy Laine said the department is looking into offering rewards for terrorists responsible for killing Americans in Israel.
But the program applies to all acts of international terrorism, Laine said, so if someone were to come forward with information on a Palestinian terrorism case in Israel, the person would be eligible for a reward.
Adding Palestinian terrorists to the site is currently under consideration, Laine said.
Since the Oslo peace accords were signed in 1993, 12 Americans have been killed by Palestinian Arab terrorists in Israel.
Lawmakers spoke out recently about the State Department’s approach to apprehending Palestinian terrorists to date.
Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) complained about Middle East envoy Dennis Ross’ reported comment that putting Palestinian names on the site would “jeopardize national security.”
“The administration’s approach is incomplete,” Salmon said. “There seems to be a double standard.”
The State Department’s response is a shame, added Sen. John Ashcroft (R-Mo.). “We intend to hold the State Department responsible.”
Salmon and Ashcroft authored legislation, which became law in November, that requires the State Department to report to Congress on the number of terrorist attacks made on American citizens in Israel and the progress of investigations into those attacks. The first report is scheduled to be completed in May.
The reports will include: a list of all U.S. citizens killed or injured in terrorist attacks; the person or groups claiming responsibility; a list of suspects and their nationality; which suspects are in custody of the Palestinian Authority or Israel; and whether the suspects have been released or are still at large.