Hostages’ families slam lawmakers as Knesset mulls ‘Death Penalty for Terrorists’ law

Representatives of the hostages begged the legislators to stop, saying their loved ones’ lives would be endangered if such a law passes.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Tempers flared in the Knesset’s National Security Committee meeting Monday on legislation which would make it easier to sentence terrorist murderers the death.

A number of representatives of families of the 240 hostages Hamas kidnapped to the Gaza Strip during its October 7 invasion of Israel in which the terrorists slaughtered 1,200 men, women, children and babies, warned the bill’s passage would directly endanger their loved ones.

“Such a bill is completely against the release of the abductees in a safe and sound manner,” said Yarden Gonen, whose sister Romi is in Hamas’ hands. “We are dealing with monsters, not with people who have logic or emotion, they proved it in October 7. Why do you give them such a tool to hang our loved ones in Gaza and make a show of it? We are dealing with the death penalty for terrorists now, when we still have living people there? How dare you endanger their lives in this way?”

Others fought back tears while speaking.

Gil Dickman, who has a cousin among those abducted, choked up as he turned to National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is a strong proponent of the law.

“I beg you to stop,” he said, voice trembling, adding at one point, “I know you have a heart, I know that life is important to you just as it is important to us. Please, not now.”

Later, he shouted at the minister, “You’re just doing damage, all that you’re doing is for the media [exposure].”

Opposition Knesset members descended to yelling matches with their coalition counterparts in taking the side of the hostages’ families as well.

Ben-Gvir expressed understanding for the families’ fears, but said he was of the exact opposite opinion.

“The chance of getting back the members of your families from Gaza is higher if terrorists will get the death penalty,” he said.

He also believed that it was a matter of justice.

“The law on the death penalty for terrorists is not an issue of Right and Left anymore. [It] is a moral and essential law for the State of Israel,” he said. “We all saw what happened here on October 7. When the Nazis entered they did not distinguish between Left and Right, an old man and a child, a Jew or an Arab. They slaughtered everything in their path, human and living. Those cursed Nazis have only one judgment, and that is death.”

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Committee chair MK Tzvika Fogel, also of Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit party, hearkened back to the only time Israel used the death penalty currently on its books.

“Every one of the terrorists is Eichmann. Every one of them should be hung,” he said. We cannot have them in our prisons, people for whom the torture of a pregnant woman is part of their lexicon. We don’t need to hold such animals.”

Adolf Eichmann, one of the prime Nazi architects of the Holocaust, was put on trial in Israel, hung after conviction, and his cremated ashes were dumped in the ocean in 1962.

Otzma Yehudit MK Limor Son Har Melech, whose first husband was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 2003, had submitted the law for discussion on behalf of the faction, along with the entire Yisrael Beytenu party, which has backed such legislation for years.

The bill passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset eight months ago, and the committee meeting was held in preparation for its first of three more readings in the legislature.

After the meeting, the coalition head Ofir Katz of the Likud responded to journalists’ queries on the issue, saying, “The death penalty for terrorists bill will not be put to a vote in the plenary session before discussion and approval by the security cabinet.”

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