Following the kidnapping of about 240 people and the killing of more than 1, 200 people in southern Israel by members of the Palestinian armed group from Gaza, Israel reported that several suspected attackers had been detained.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, the far-right National Security Minister, made the proposal and posted it on X on Monday, saying that “the death penalty law for terrorists is no longer a matter of left and right.” For the State of Israel, it is both a moral and fundamental law.
Even discussing the death penalty could have disastrous effects on the loved ones held in Gaza, according to relatives of some of the people held by Hamas.
Yarden Gonen, whose sister Romi is one of the hostages, told Ben-Gvir and his party colleagues that it would entail participating in their mind games in exchange for which we would receive images of our loved ones being murdered and the state of Israel, not them, would be held responsible.
She advised waiting until they were back here before continuing. “Don’t wash your hands with my sister’s blood.”
The hostages’ families are concerned that even discussing executions could put their loved ones, who have already been threatened with Hamas’ execution, in danger.
One of the captives’ cousin Gil Dilkma begged Ben-Gvir to repeal the law.
If you have a heart, he said, “Remove the law.”
Similar to this, the Missing Families Forum claimed that such discussion “endangers the lives of our loved ones without promoting any public purpose.”
This worry was echoed by a different family member of one of the prisoners, who yelled, “Stop talking about killing Arabs.” Start bringing up the topic of rescuing Jews!
Consternation was expressed by some right-wing politicians in response to these objections. You have no monopoly over pain, Almog Cohen of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party in Israel yelled back.
Another far-right politician remarked, “You are silencing other families.”
Retaliation or deterrent?
More executions would help to stop “terrorism,” according to some Israeli politicians in the past.
The death penalty was reintroduced as a possibility when Israel’s Ministry of Justice this month established vigilance to ensure that those tried and found guilty received punishments “befitting the severity of the horrors committed.”
According to Ben-Gvir, carrying out the death penalty is “more crucial than ever… for the sake of those murdered and who fell in the line of duty, and, no less, so that there won’t be any more kidnapped.”
However, throughout its lengthy rule, Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party hasn’t shown much interest in moving the bill forward.
Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi war criminal who was found guilty and executed by hanging, received the only court-ordered death sentence in Israel in 1962. The death penalty may be decided by a unanimous vote of three judges in Israeli military courts, which frequently deal with cases involving Palestinians, but this has never been done.
Ben-Gvir’s party was accused of having “confused priorities” by Linor Dan-Calderon, three of whose relatives are being held captive.