Ministers approve upping punishments for terror

Meretz, ACRI say bill is anti-democratic, violates human rights; MK Gal-On accuses Knesset of waylaying human rights to fight terror.

June 9, 2013 15:45
1 minute read.
Palestinian collaborator in Hamas jail in Gaza [file].

Palestinian prisoners in Hamas jail 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem )


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The punishments for involvement in terror organizations and for anyone who supports, identifies or sympathizes with terror will be increased, according to a bill approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation Sunday.

The Justice Ministry worked on the bill for four years, and its passage was disrupted by the last election.

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The bill increases sentences for terror attacks from 30 to 40 years and, in some cases, allows suspects to be jailed for up to 30 days without seeing a lawyer. In addition, the state will be able to seize property belonging to terror organizations and limit their members from leaving the country even if there is no warrant for their arrest.

The bill will also apply to “price tag” vandalism, which Justice Minister Tzipi Livni considers terror.

The legislation is meant to replace the national state of emergency in matters of terror.

The national emergency has been extant since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and includes hundreds of orders covering security issues as well as civil and economic ones.

Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On accused the government of trampling on human rights in the name of fighting terror.

“This bill is invalid and unconstitutional, as it gives the government draconian authority to arrest people and limit freedom of movement, and turns law-abiding people and organizations into ‘terrorists,’” Gal-On said.

Gal-On said that the government fights terror with “one hand tied behind its back,” paraphrasing former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak.

“The state of emergency, which was applied here since the British Mandate, cannot be replaced with anti-democratic legislation that will be anchored in our modern lawbooks,” she added. “Even in a democracy, not everything is allowed.”

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) panned the bill, saying it allows the government to take serious steps against people and organizations without a trial and without minimum guarantees that their rights will be defended.

“The bill seeks to perpetuate and even worsen the anti-democratic arrangements in the state of national emergency,” the organization said. “Therefore, it will cause serious and irreversible damage to the state of human rights in Israel.”

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