Israel approves preliminary death penalty bill for ‘terrorists’..

Israel approves preliminary death penalty bill for ‘terrorists’ with Netanyahu’s blessing

Israel approves preliminary death penalty bill for 'terrorists' with Netanyahu's blessing
Despite massive opposition from Israeli lawmakers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was influential in the Knesset’s decision to support a bill that would allow both military and civil courts to sentence terrorists to death.

In a narrow 52-49 vote, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, approved the first draft of a bill which could make it easier for terrorists to be handed the death penalty. Current military law allows a person to be sentenced to death for an act of terrorism, but only if such a sentence has the unanimous support of all three sitting judges.

The new draft legislation seeks to amend the current order, and wants it replaced by a simple majority decision of the judges. The bill, sponsored by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, also aspires to expand the potential use of death penalty beyond the military courts, seeking its application in Israeli civil courts. Israel has carried out only two executions in its modern history.

The current proposed regulations does not single out any religion or ethnicity, and if adopted, would apply to both Jewish and Palestinian terrorists. The Israeli definition of “terrorism” however, is rather broad and includes, for instance, knife attacks on military personnel, which are often committed by teenagers. In August 2016, Israeli lawmakers approved the so-called Youth Bill, legalizing the imprisonment of Palestinian minors as young as 12, should they be are suspected of grave crimes, such as acts of terrorism against the state of Israel. While the draft law still has to pass through three more readings, the age of the “terrorists” has not yet been discussed.

Fierce debates Wednesday, however, raged around the ethical application of the death penalty and its compatibility with Judaism. While Judaism allows for capital punishment, Talmudic law as followed by ultra-Orthodox members of the Jewish community argues that the death penalty ceased with the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. Following their religious conviction, members of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party walked out before the vote to consult with rabbis on the issue.

Netanyahu voiced support for the bill, despite the fact that previous Israeli governments, including those headed by him, have rejected all prior death penalty initiatives. “There are extreme cases, where people commit terrible crimes and don’t deserve to live,” the PM argued. “We’re changing the law for these situations.”

Netanyahu’s stance was supported by MK Yisrael Beytenu who proposed the bill. He said, “When terrorists sitting in Israeli prisons end up going free [in prisoner exchanges], I think the most moral thing is for [terrorists] to get the death penalty.”

Others, however, voiced strong opposition to the proposed capital punishment legislation. “The death penalty will not contribute anything to the war on terrorism,” said MK Eyal Ben-Reuven. “The opposite is true. Instead of deterring, it will strengthen the terrorists, who will turn into shaheeds [Arabic for martyr]. Israel has proven abilities to deal with terrorism without giving up on the strength in our values and without using our enemies’ methods.”

Opposition lawmaker Tzipi Livni called the bill “reckless, 100 percent politics,” adding, that “The defense establishment opposes the death penalty.” Just prior to the vote, the head of Israel’s internal security service (Shin Bet) Nadav Argaman also voiced strong opposition, noting that the “terrorist death penalty law will lead to wave of kidnappings” of Jews around the world to force Israelis to release convicted Palestinian prisoners before they are executed.

Wednesday’s vote was already slammed by the European Union’s ambassador to Israel. “The death penalty is incompatible with human dignity. It constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment, does not have any proven deterrent effect and allows judicial errors to become irreversible & fatal,” the EU mission said on Twitter.

In August, a poll published by the Jerusalem-based Israel Democracy Institute found that 70 percent of Israeli Jews “strongly” or “moderately” supported the death penalty.  – RT News, 4/1/2018

Israel’s new death penalty bill ‘targets Palestinians’


The proposed law is backed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [Tsafrir Abayov/Reuters]
The proposed law is backed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [Tsafrir Abayov/Reuters]

The Israeli government‘s proposal to make it easier for judges to hand out the death penalty for “terrorist activity” has been condemned as “fascist” by Palestinian politicians and rights groups, who fear it will give Israel legal cover to target Palestinians.

A bill to amend existing legislation regulating the use of the death sentence passed its preliminary reading in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, on Wednesday with backing from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition.

Aida Touma-Suleiman, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and member of the Knesset, told Al Jazeera on Friday that while the bill does not specify any group, it is “intended mainly for the Palestinian people”.

“It’s not going to be implemented against Jews who are committing terrorist attacks against Palestinians for sure,” she said, describing the bill’s authors as “extreme right”.

“This is a fascist bill, contributing to an atmosphere of fascism inside Israeli society, which is directed towards Palestinians.”

Under existing laws, Israel’s civilian courts reserve the use of the death penalty for Nazis and Nazi collaborators convicted of committing murder during the Holocaust, while military courts can hand out the sentence if a panel of three judges unanimously agrees to issue the punishment.

The proposed changes will add an additional clause to Israel’s penal law, allowing the death penalty to be used against those convicted of “terrorist activity”, which is defined by the bill as “a deliberate attempt to murder civilians in order to achieve political, national, religious or ideological objectives.”

It will remove the requirement for military court panels to unanimously agree on issuing the punishment, instead requiring a simple majority of two of the three judges.

When asked by Palestinian Knesset member Ahmad Tibi on Wednesday about whether the law would apply to Jews who carry out attacks, such as “those who burned the children in Duma”, Netanyahu replied: “In principle, yes.”

Tibi’s reference was to a 2015 arson attack carried out by a Jewish settler in the occupied West Bank village of Duma, which left three Palestinians, including a one-year-old baby, dead and another child seriously wounded.

Dawoud Yusef of the Palestinian rights group Addameer, which advocates for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, cast doubt on Netanyahu’s assertion that the move would also apply to Jews.

“What we’ve seen in the past is that Avigdor Lieberman has been pushing for this as part of his agreement to join Netanyahu’s coalition,” Yusef said, referencing Netanyahu’s defence minister and hard-right coalition partner.

“He’s come out and said that this will only apply to Arabs. When he says Arabs, we assume he means Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.”

‘Biased judicial system’

Lieberman, whose party Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) put forward the bill, has in the past advocated the use of the death penalty against “Arab terror”, and in a Facebook post about the bill on Wednesday, the minister declared: “Jewish blood is not cheap.”

Yusef said if the bill ends up passing, it would represent a “slippery slope”.

“We really see this as a pandering to the extreme elements in the Israeli government and we’re not sure in the current climate, where that’s going to end.”

Given Israel’s position as occupying power, its biased judicial system against Palestinians, and precedence over the years, such a bill can only be read to target Palestinians who Israel characterises as terrorists, a term whose definition in Israel is so broad and encompassing.

Maha Abdullah, Legal Researcher at Al Haq

Maha Abdullah of the Palestinian human rights organisation, Al Haq, told Al Jazeera it would further compound Israel’s hold over the occupied territories.

“It should be noted that most Palestinian political detainees are tried by Israeli military courts,” she said.

“Given Israel’s position as occupying power, its biased judicial system against Palestinians, and precedence over the years, such a bill can only be read to target Palestinians who Israel characterises as terrorists, a term whose definition in Israel is so broad and encompassing.”

While Israel has a long history of carrying out targeted assassinations of its opponents, judicial executions are very rare.

In 1948, the Israeli army court-martialed and executed Meir Tobianski after accusations that he had passed on intelligence to the Jordanian army, but the officer was later posthumously exonerated of the charges.

In 1962, the state executed the former SS commander Adolf Eichmann for his part in the Holocaust. SOURCE: Al Jazeera News, 5/1/2018

January 3, 2018 / 11:07 PM / 9 days ago

Israeli death penalty advocates win preliminary vote in parliament

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s parliament gave preliminary approval on Wednesday for legislation that would make it easier for a court to impose a death sentence on assailants convicted of murder in attacks classified as terrorism.

FILE PHOTO: Israeli lawmakers attend a vote on a bill at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem February 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/File Photo

Israeli military courts – which handle cases involving Palestinians in the occupied West Bank – already have the power to issue the death sentence, although this has never been implemented. The only case of an execution in Israel was carried out against convicted Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1962.

The amendment to the penal code would still require three more readings if it is to become law. Currently, a death penalty can only be imposed if a panel of three military judges passes sentence unanimously. If the amendment is adopted, a majority verdict would suffice.

Wednesday’s motion was brought by Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, an ultra-nationalist in the conservative coalition government, who advocates tough action against Palestinian militants. Fifty-two of parliament’s 120 members voted in favor, and 49 were opposed.

Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoner Club which represents Palestinians jailed in Israel, denounced the vote as ”an expression of the state of blindness and confusion in the policies of this fascist regime (where) extremist parties race to pass racist laws.

“While the world moves toward repealing the death penalty, Israel is working to ratify this law, which is directed against the Palestinians,” Fares told Reuters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voted for the motion but said that such legislation required deeper discussion and that the matter would now be considered at ministerial level before further debate in the Knesset.

In remarks to lawmakers, he said: “I think that in extreme cases, when somebody slaughters and laughs (as he kills), he should not spend the rest of his time in jail and should be executed.”

Asked by an Israeli Arab lawmaker whether he would also apply this reasoning to Jewish militants convicted of killing Palestinians, Netanyahu said: “In principle, yes.”

The successful vote was the latest in a number of motions brought by right-wing coalition members who feel able to pressure Netanyahu’s brittle government into enacting hard-line legislation. – Reuters, 3/1/2018

Palestine – Court of Appeal in Gaza Strip on 12/7/2017 approves death sentence issued against four citizens

15/7/2017 – A statement Issued by Human Rights and Democracy Media Center ‘SHAMS”

On ratifying death penalty upon four citizens within two days by the Military Court and the Court of Appeal.


“SHAMS” strongly condemns the sentence issued by the Court of Appeal in Gaza Strip on 12/7/2017 to approve death sentence issued against four citizens. The Court of Appeal approved the decision issued by the Court of First Instance on inflicting death penalty upon (A/M) accused of murdering the citizen Ilham Mohammed Sehwail (33) years old on December 9th 2015. Also, the Court of Appeal issued a sentence to support the judgment of the Court of First Instance to inflict death penalty upon the citizen Nahla Abu Anza, accused of murdering her husband Riyadh Abu Anza on January 28th of 2016.


Moreover, High Military Court affiliated with Military Judiciary Entity in Gaza Strip issued two death sentences upon citizens accused of espionage with the Israeli occupation. Military Court approved death by handing upon the citizen (M/D) who was born in 1985 married and living in Nuseirat in the middle of Gaza Strip because of betrayal. High Military Court approved a sentence of death by handing issued against the citizen (A/Q). Who was born in 1964, married and living in Rafah to the north of Gaza Strip accused of betrayal.


“SHAMS” center assures its support and solidarity with families and parents of victims. It clarifies that calling for abolition of the death sentence against perpetrators in serious crimes doesn’t indicate tolerating them, but replacing the death sentence with other punishment to respect individuals’ humanity and dignity. The capital punishment represents the cruelest form of intentional murder. It is irreversible, the risk of executing an innocent person can never be eliminated. While people who were sent to death row have later been exonerated sometimes.


“SHAMS” center puts emphasis on respecting the efforts and approaches of the Palestinian leaders aiming to accede human rights conventions which guarantee the right to life. The center appeals to the Palestinian National Authority PNA to sign the Second Optional Protocol of 1989, annexed to the International Convenant on political and Civil Rights, on the abolition of death penalty. Moreover, the center appeals to the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas so as not to ratify death sentences, and to use his constitutional powers to abolish death penalty from the Palestinian legislations.







بيان للنشر الفوري صادر عن مركز إعلام حقوق الإنسان والديمقراطية “شمس”

حول تأييد المحكمة العسكرية ومحكمة الاستئناف الحكم بالإعدام بحق أربعة مواطنين

يدين مركز “شمس” بشدة الحكم الذي أصدرته محكمة الاستئناف بغزة  يوم الأربعاء 12/7/2017 والقاضي بتأييد حكم الإعدام الصادر بحق أربعة مواطنين ، فقد أيدت محكمة الاستئناف بغزة الحكم الصادر عن محكمة البداية والقاضي بحكم الإعدام على (ا/م) المتهم بقتل المواطنة إلهام محمد سحويل (33 سنة) بتاريخ 9/11/2015 ، كما أصدرت محكمة الاستئناف بغزة حكمها المؤيد لمحكمة البداية بغزة القاضي بحكم الإعدام على المواطنة نهلة أبو عنزة المتهمة بقتل زوجها رياض حلمي أبو عنزة بتاريخ 28/1/2016.

كما أيدت المحكمة العسكرية العليا التابعة لهيئة القضاء العسكري بغزة، صباح الخميس13/7/2017 ، حكمين بالإعدام على مواطنين بتهمة التخابر مع الاحتلال ، فقد أيدت المحكمة العسكرية الحكم بالإعدام بحق المواطن (م.د) شنقاً حتى الموت ، مدني من مواليد عام 1985م، متزوج ومن سكان النصيرات وسط قطاع غزة لاتهامه بالخيانة .كما أيدت المحكمة العسكرية العليا حكماً على المواطن (ع.ق) بالإعدام شنقاً حتى الموت.وصدر الحكم على المواطن (ع.ق) من مواليد عام 1964م، متزوج ومن سكان مدينة رفح جنوب قطاع غزة لاتهامه بالخيانة .


يؤكد مركز “شمس” على وقوفه إلى جانب اسر الضحايا والعائلات الثكلى وتضامنه التام معهم، كما ويؤكد أن مطالبته بإلغاء عقوبة الإعدام بحق الجناة لا يعني بأي حال من الأحوال أنه يدعو للتسامح مع المدانين بجرائم خطيرة، ولكنه يطالب باستبدال عقوبة الإعدام في عقوبة أخرى رادعة تحترم إنسانية الإنسان وكرامته في نفس الوقت. فعقوبة الإعدام أبشع أشكال القتل المتعمد. كما أنها عقوبة قاسية وفظة ولا تحقق الأهداف التي تسعى إليها الدولة من العقاب،كما أنها العقوبة الوحيدة التي لا يمكن التراجع عنها في حال تنفيذها. إذا ما أتضح براءة من نفذت فيه.


يدعو مركز “شمس” إلى ضرورة احترام توجهات القيادة الفلسطينية الرامية إلى الانضمام إلى مزيد من اتفاقيات حقوق الإنسان التي تكفل الحق في الحياة ، كما ويدعو المركز السلطة الوطنية  الفلسطينية إلى ضرورة التوقيع على البروتوكول الثاني لسنة 1989 الملحق بالعهد الدولي للحقوق المدنية والسياسية  والخاص بإلغاء عقوبة الإعدام،كما يدعو الرئيس محمود عباس “أبو مازن ” إلى عدم التصديق على أحكام الإعدام. وإلى ضرورة استخدام صلاحياته الدستورية للقيام بكل ما يلزم لإلغاء عقوبة الإعدام من التشريعات الفلسطينية.


Palestine – Hamas authorities executes three in Gaza

Hamas executes three in Gaza, drawing UN condemnation

Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip executed three Palestinian men for murder on Tuesday, the attorney general said, drawing condemnation from the United Nations.

The three, who were not named and whose cases were unrelated, were put to death by firing squad behind closed doors, security sources said.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) said, however, that two of them were hanged and the third was shot.

Members of Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas' security forces patrol an area along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt in April 2016 in Rafah

Members of Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas’ security forces patrol an area along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt in April 2016 in Rafah ©Said Khatib (AFP/File)

“To achieve public deterrence and curb crime, the competent authorities carried out at dawn on Tuesday, May 31, 2016 execution rulings against three of those convicted of shocking murders,” a statement from the attorney general said.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned the executions which he said occurred “despite serious and widespread concerns that international fair trial standards were not respected”.

The European Union, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International all also condemned the killings.

In theory, all execution orders in the Palestinian territories must be approved by president Mahmud Abbas, who is based in the occupied West Bank.

But Hamas, the militant Islamist group that runs Gaza, no longer recognises his legitimacy, and Gaza attorney general Ismail Jaber recently announced that the authorities there would carry out the executions without Abbas’s backing.

Hamas and Abbas’s Palestinian Authority agreed a unity deal in April 2014 which was supposed to lead to a joint technocratic government, but the accord was never fully implemented and they remain at loggerheads.

The UN statement said that the failure to get Abbas’s backing for the executions was a breach of Palestinian law.

Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine director at HRW, said Hamas authorities had been under pressure to act because of perceptions of increased crime in Gaza, including a number of grisly murders of civilians.

“This is an attempt by the government to show they are doing something,” she told AFP, “but killing criminals is not going to decrease crime.”

“These people were convicted in a judicial system where torture and coercion are common,” she added.

The attorney general said the three had been given a fair trial.

– ‘Example to others’ –

Jaber had initially said he wanted executions to be carried out in public, and it was unclear if this would happen in the future.

At the time of the attorney general’s announcement last week, 13 men, most convicted of murder connected to robberies, were awaiting execution.

The last public executions in Gaza were during the 2014 war with Israel when a firing squad from Hamas’s armed wing shot dead six alleged collaborators with Israel.

They were executed in front of Gaza City’s main mosque following prayers.

Mkhaimar Abusada, professor of political science at Gaza’s Al-Azhar University, said the reintroduction of the death penalty would be popular in the Palestinian enclave.

“Gaza is very much a tribal society, meaning people believe in revenge for tribal or familial reasons,” he told AFP.

“In order to avoid people taking the law into their own hands the best (route) is through government or the judicial system.”

On the streets of Gaza, which has been blockaded by Israel for 10 years and has an unemployment rate of almost 45 percent, opinion about the executions was mixed.

“Whoever kills people should be killed as an example to others,” said Nahed al-Luh, in his 60s.

But Amin Abed, 25, called the executions “illegal” because “Hamas didn’t deal with the Palestinian Authority and the president didn’t ratify the verdicts”.

According to the PCHR, nine death sentences were passed in Gaza in 2015 and two in the West Bank, run by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

So far this year, around 10 more people have been sentenced to death in Gaza.

Palestinian law allows the death penalty for collaborators, murderers and drug traffickers.

Of the more than 170 Palestinians sentenced to death since the PA’s creation in 1994, around 30 have been executed, mostly in Gaza, the PCHR says. – Daily Mail, 31/5/2016