newsIsrael at War

Knesset bill enabling death penalty for terrorists on hold

Families of captives held in Gaza oppose the legislation.

Family members of Israelis held hostage in the Gaza Strip begin a march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Nov. 14, 2023. Photo by Gideon Markowicz/TPS.
Family members of Israelis held hostage in the Gaza Strip begin a march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Nov. 14, 2023. Photo by Gideon Markowicz/TPS.

Legislation allowing for the death penalty to be applied to terrorists will be put on hold pending the approval of Israel’s Security Cabinet, said coalition chairman MK Ofir Katz on Monday.

The announcement came after the families of hostages sparred with right-wing lawmakers during a meeting of the Knesset’s National Security Committee earlier in the day.

The bill, introduced by the Otzma Yehudit Party, is opposed by the Hostages’ Families Forum, which represents the interests of the families of Israelis being held captive in Gaza. Around 240 hostages—Israelis and foreign nationals—were abducted on Oct. 7 when Hamas attacked Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip.

The forum said the legislation “severely endangers the lives” of the captives.

“The discussion’s timing endangers our loved ones without actively promoting a public interest,” the forum said in a statement.

During the stormy committee meeting, a relative of one of the hostages shouted, “Stop talking about killing Arabs and start speaking about saving Jews.”

Otzma Yehudit Knesset member Almog Cohen insisted that the hostages’ families “do not have a monopoly on the pain,” adding, “We have also buried more than 150 friends.”

National Security Minister and Otzma Yehudit Party leader Itamar Ben-Gvir announced on Saturday evening, in a post on X, formerly called Twitter, that his party would introduce a death penalty bill to the Knesset this week.

Interior Minister Moshe Arbel of the Shas Party said on Sunday that he supports the death penalty for the Hamas terrorists who led the Oct. 7 massacre.

Likud Party lawmaker Amit Halevi last month submitted a bill to Israel’s parliament that would allow courts to impose the death penalty on Palestinian terrorists who participated in Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror assault.

At least 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on Oct. 7. Another 240 men, women, children and soldiers were taken back to Gaza as hostages. Some people remain unaccounted for as authorities continue to identify bodies and search for human remains.

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