Ezra blasts failure to stop bombers' Israeli helpers

The easiest way in is with the help of Israelis who drive the Palestinians through the border crossings.

erez crossing barrier 88 (photo credit: )
erez crossing barrier 88
(photo credit: )
A day after five people were killed in a suicide bombing in Netanya, security officials blasted the Justice Ministry and the Courts Administration on Tuesday, claiming the judicial system was not effectively deterring Israelis from assisting Palestinians in illegally entering Israel. While police have yet to determine how the suicide bomber entered into Israel, officials noted on Tuesday that with the security fence up and effective in the Sharon Region, the easiest way in is with the help of Israelis who drive the Palestinians through the border crossings in exchange for several hundred shekels. In the past, Israeli citizens have been implicated and convicted for driving terrorists into Israeli cities. A mere 24 hours after the bombing, police announced they had arrested 510 Palestinians illegally residing in Israel. Around 20 of those apprehended were taken for investigation by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), while the majority were returned to the territories. Three Israelis were arrested on suspicion of transporting and employing Palestinians in addition to finding them sleeping accommodations within Israel. Following Monday's bombing, Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra lashed out at the judicial system which he said "moved slowly" and did not efficiently deter Israelis from assisting Palestinians. Late Monday night, Ezra visited the Tulkarm Checkpoint to see upfront what changes were required to enhance the supervision at the crossings. "There is no question that the fence is effective and the problem lies in the crossings," Deputy Internal Security Minister Ya'acov Edri told The Jerusalem Post. "But another huge problem is that the courts go easy on Israeli accomplices and do not mete out harsh enough punishments." If an Israeli is caught driving illegal Palestinians - called Shabahim in Hebrew - his car is confiscated and at the most he receives a fine, one officer claimed. "It takes a year until the Israeli stands trial and then all he gets is a fine and a slap on the wrist," the officer complained. "There is just no deterrence." The Justice Ministry rejected Ezra and Edri's declarations the "wheels of justice were slow" and reminded the police force that it was their in-house prosecution staff that was responsible for prosecuting Israelis caught transporting Palestinians over the Green Line. As a case in point, Justice officials referred to a recent Supreme Court ruling that clearly called for harsher punishments for Israelis caught assisting Palestinians. "The wording of the law and the resonating sounds from terror attacks obligate the court to issue harsher sentences than they have until now," reads the 2001 verdict written by Justice Yaakov Terkil. "Even if the person is normative and did what he did naively, he should still be sentenced to time in prison and not community service."