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Monday, March 28, 2016

'Death for Terrorists' Bill, Israel Risks Joining a Very Dubious Club

  • Approving death penalty for terrorists would be a stain on Israeli law
  • Yes, Israel is executing Palestinians without trial

The bill calling for the death penalty for terrorists has suddenly been resurrected and is coming up for debate on Sunday in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation. The main reasons for this are the need to deter terrorists and the fact that Israel releases terrorists before their full prison term is up.
Space will not suffice to enumerate all the arguments against the death penalty. But it is important to make clear that comparative studies among states in the United States, and research that compares the situation before and after the death penalty was instituted or abolished, have not been able to prove that it is in any way a deterrent that prevents murders, certainly not murders committed by terrorists. The latter know that they are risking their lives during or after their actions, so the claim that the death penalty deters them insults our intelligence. That is also one of the reasons why, with the exception of the United States, the death penalty does not exist in any democratic country.
Are the supporters of the bill seriously proposing that because the government of Israel is unable to make rational decisions about negotiating with terrorist organizations over the release of prisoners, it will decide to execute people? And would this solve the problem, or just exacerbate it? After all, a murder trial with a death penalty will be a lengthy one, and during that time terrorist groups will be especially motivated to abduct soldiers or civilians to demand the release of the indicted or condemned individual.
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