Balad MK Basel Ghattas.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Former Joint List MK Basel Ghattas, convicted of providing means to commit an act of terror, a parole board determined Tuesday.
Ghattas, 62, began serving a two-year sentence in July 2017 after being convicted of smuggling cell phones and SIM cards to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons, which Ghattas said he did for “humanitarian and moral reasons.” The sentence was part of a plea deal that included his resignation from the Knesset. He was also fined NIS 120,000.
The then-MK was caught on video smuggling the phones to Fatah members Walid Daka, who was sentenced to life in prison for killing 19-yearold soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984, and Bassel Basra, serving a 15-year sentence for security offenses. Ghattas took advantage of his parliamentary immunity, which exempted him from being searched, to bring the contraband into prison.
The parole board, led by retired justice Drora Bet-Or, found that Ghattas’s crimes “endangered national security and that of the citizens of the state... and their severity must be one of the considerations of the committee about his early release.” It pointed out in its decision that the judge that sentenced Ghattas had misgivings about allowing him to accept a plea deal rather than serve a longer sentence.
In addition, the committee found that Ghattas refused to take part in any rehabilitative or therapeutic processes and did not speak to any social workers.
“Not only this, the committee has the impression that the prisoner is finding it difficult to verbally and honestly express regret for the actions, to which he admitted, and is trying to explain his motivations, claiming he did not intend to harm national security,” the decision reads.
The committee added: “There is no dispute that the results [of Ghattas’s actions] could have severely harmed national security.” The committee said there were several behavioral complaints about Ghattas while he was in prison, though none was about dangerous behavior.
Ghattas moved between four different prisons during the first 16 months of his sentence, and is currently in Nafha Prison, near Sde Boker in the Negev. Some of the transfers were due to medical issues, which the committee did not describe out of respect for his right to privacy.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>