More than six weeks after the Hamas attack, Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, debated this Monday the possibility of extending the death penalty to the crime of terrorism.
This Monday, in the parliamentary National Security committee, the families of more than 200 hostages engaged in a heated exchange of arguments with far-right deputies, as they did not want the law to be changed now.
In history, Israel has only sentenced two prisoners to death and only one has been executed, the Nazi Adolf Eichmann, in 1962.
The death penalty is provided for crimes of treason and crimes against humanity. The Otzma Yehudit party now wants terrorist attacks like the one on October 7 to be covered as well.
The families of all those abducted by Hamas oppose the idea and have asked that the debate not take place, as they believe it will put the hostages in greater danger.
“This would mean playing mind games [do Hamas]. And in exchange we would receive photographs of our murdered loved ones, with the State of Israel and not [o Hamas] be held responsible for this,” said Yarden Gonen, whose sister Romi is among those captured.
“Do not stain your hands with my sister’s blood,” he appealed.
Gil Dickmann, whose cousin is captive, stressed that “there will be time to discuss, but later.”
“Please be with us on the side of life and not death. I ask you to remove this matter from the agenda, if you have the heart and if you see us,” he said.
Even so, far-right deputies did not accept the request and even accused the families of representing Hamas rather than the State of Israel. One of these politicians told a man whose wife and daughter were missing that he did not “own the suffering,” after a long exchange of accusations.
At the start of the debate, the committee chairman stated that Hamas men could no longer be arrested.
“Israel has no obligation to continue feeding these beasts,” was the word of Zvika Fogel, a member of Otzma Yehudit, who accused the families of being manipulated by Palestinian extremists.
The extreme right proposal, which will soon be debated in plenary, does not enjoy consensus in the government coalition.
The Education Minister, who represents Likud, sided with the families of the Hamas hostages, arguing that now is not the time to hold a debate on the death penalty.