The Israeli government now wants to make it easier to impose the death penalty in the fight against terrorists. A bill introduced in March by the right-wing extremist ruling party Ozma Yehudit had already cleared the first hurdle in parliament. The consultations are now continuing.
However, three more readings are needed before the law can come into effect. Similar attempts to impose the death penalty on terrorists have always failed in the past. According to the draft, “anyone who intentionally or out of indifference causes the death of an Israeli citizen, if the act is carried out with a racist motivation or out of hostility towards a particular population group” should be punished with death – with the aim of “harming the state Israel or the rebirth of the Jewish people in their homeland.” In the occupied West Bank, military courts should be able to hand down death sentences by a simple majority.
Israel abolished the death penalty for murder in 1954. Israeli law still allows the death penalty to be imposed in certain cases – for example against Nazi criminals, crimes against humanity, war crimes or treason in times of war. However, the execution of German Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1962 was the last time that a death sentence pronounced by a regular court in Israel was actually carried out.
Relatives of those kidnapped against the death penalty
The renewed debate over the relaxation of the death penalty has sparked outrage among the relatives of Israelis taken hostage by Hamas on October 7. The families and friends of the approximately 240 kidnapped people fear their loved ones will be in further danger.
“The death penalty law for terrorists will not be passed now, that is clear to everyone,” Education Minister Yoav Kisch told the Haaretz newspaper on Monday. Kish is a member of the Likud, the party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Energy Minister and coalition leader Israel Katz (also Likud) said the law “will not be put to a vote until it is approved by the Cabinet.”
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