Israeli comfort each others outside the home, where a Palestinian broke in the day before and stabbed four Israelis killing three of them, in the Jewish settlement Neve Tsuf (Halamish), in the West Bank, on July 22, 2017.
(photo credit: GALI TIBBON / AFP)
Omar al-Abed, the Palestinian terrorist who stabbed to death three members of the Salomon family in their home in Halamish (Neveh Tzuf) in July, was convicted on Wednesday of three counts of murder, two counts of attempted aggravated manslaughter, one count of incitement and several other charges.
Prior to the conviction, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman called on the court to implement the death penalty for Abed.
“Today the verdict will be handed down to the terrorist who killed three members of the Salomon family in cold blood in the settlement of Halamish,” he said. “The death sentence is the only appropriate punishment for such a despicable act. I call on the judges to demonstrate courage and hand down a death sentence to this terrorist. Jewish blood will not be abandoned! There is no place for terrorists, not even in prison.”
The Military Advocate-General’s Office, which is trying the case, asked the court to sentence Abed to four life terms. The IDF said that the sentence will be decided at a later date.
After the court hearing, family members criticized the prosecution and government for not demanding the death penalty, and not advancing legislation that would sanction a death sentence for Palestinian terrorists.
“We understand we’re being toyed with,” one of the Salomon’s surviving daughters, Rachel Menzali, was quoted by Yediot Aharonot as saying. “They’re talking and talking, but not really doing what needs to be done. They could have picked up the phone and demanded it. The prime minister and defense minister were at the shiva and explicitly told us that they would work on it, that it could be promoted.”
Liberman responded to the family’s criticism, saying in a Twitter post that “as defense minister, I have no authority to provide instruction to military prosecutors or judges. As chairman of Yisrael Beytenu and an Israeli citizen, I call on the judges to sentence the despicable terrorist to death.”
Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan welcomed the conviction and called for the killer’s family members, who were in the courtroom on Wednesday, to be expelled from the country as an additional punishment for his crime.
“I am glad that the lowly murderer who murdered the Salomon family from Halamish was convicted,” he said. “A complementary step to his punishment would be the expulsion of his family from the country. At least to expel them from Judea and Samaria to another area, which would be a clear deterrent to all kinds of other potential terrorists.”
Three Israelis were killed in a stabbing attack in Halamish, July 21, 2017 (Reuters)
In July, Abed entered the home of the Salomon family as they sat down for Shabbat dinner. He stabbed the father and two of his children before an off-duty soldier, identified only as Sgt. A., shot through the window. Sgt. A. and his father, Shimon Maoz, then entered the house and called the security forces.
During the interrogations, Abed admitted to carrying out the attack because of the tensions surrounding the placement of metal detectors on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. He published a Facebook post just before he left his West Bank village of Kobar to carry out the attack, stating that he was expecting to die.
Im Tirtzu chairman Matan Peleg, whose organization has been assisting the Choosing Life Forum of bereaved families of which the Salomon family is a member, called for the death penalty to be imposed following the sentencing.
“The only way to curb the ongoing terrorist threat facing Israel is by creating true deterrence that will convince potential terrorists that they have more to lose than to gain,” he said. “Therefore, it is necessary to implement the death penalty for convicted terrorists, facilitate the expulsion of their families to Gaza, and green light home demolitions.”
“In addition, there is also a need to reduce the lavish benefits that terrorists enjoy in Israeli jails,” Peleg said. “Only then do we have a chance of stopping this rampant industry of murder.”
Israeli law currently allows military courts to use the death penalty if there is a consensus of all the judges presiding over the trial.
The Knesset has rejected legislation that would apply the death penalty to Palestinian terrorists several times but right-wing lawmakers, led by Liberman, have been calling for expanding the death penalty to apply to certain kinds of terrorists such as Abed.
A bill proposed by Liberman would allow a majority of judges to sentence a terrorist to death. A draft bill was agreed to by coalition leaders last week despite opposition leaders saying it would not deter terrorists from carrying out attacks, including Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman who came out against the death penalty on Sunday
The death penalty has only been invoked in Israel once, on Nazi commander Adolf Eichmann, who was hanged in 1962.