Israeli MPs approve 'death penalty for terrorists' bill

Israeli MPs approve 'death penalty for terrorists' bill
The bill approved by Israeli MPs would ease the requirements military courts must meet to sentence to death those convicted of "terrorist" crimes.
2 min read
03 January, 2018
Military courts will now be able to sentence people to death more easily [Getty]

Israel's parliament on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a bill making it easier for "terrorists" to be sentenced to death after a push by right-wing politicians for the controversial legislation.

The bill, approved 52-49, would ease the requirements military courts must meet to sentence those convicted of "terrorist" crimes to death. Israel has not carried out any executions since 1962.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu voted in favour of the legislation, saying it was necessary in extreme cases. It requires three more votes in parliament to become law.

As the law stands now, a panel of three military judges must unanimously approve any death penalty in military courts.

The bill, put forward at the initiative of Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, would change the requirement to a majority instead of unanimity.

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including children, face military courts when arrested by Israel.

Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl, who is being hailed as a national hero after she slapped an occupying Israeli soldier, had a hearing at Ofer military court.

Israel abolished the use of capital punishment for murder in civil courts in 1954, though it can still in theory be applied for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, treason, and crimes against the Jewish people.

In July as Netanyahu visited family members of three Israelis stabbed to death by a Palestinian, he expressed support for the death penalty in certain cases.

"The death penalty for terrorists - it's time to implement it in severe cases," he said while speaking with the family members.

Israel has detained more than 600 Palestinians since US President Donald Trump's decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and relocate its capital there last month the Palestinian Prisoners Society.

According to the prisoners' rights group and a count by The New Arab, the number of Palestinians detained by Israeli forces since Trump's December 6 declaration currently stands at 613 Palestinians, including 171 children, 13 women and three injured prisoners.

The 610 Palestinians detained are in addition to the 6,500 Palestinians already imprisoned by Israeli forces for various alleged crimes, taking the total number of detainees to more than 7,000.

Detainees are considered political prisoners in Palestinian society.