Capital Punishment in Israel

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Capital Punishment in Israel

by Stephen Lendman ( – Home – Stephen Lendman)

Throughout its existence, Israel killed countless tens of thousands of Palestinians – slow-motion genocide by wars, extrajudicial assassinations and other means.

Yet capital punishment in Israel has only officially been imposed twice, the death penalty abolished in 1954.

The last execution conducted was in 1962, imposed on Adolph Eichmann, hanging him for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Jewish philosopher and influential Torah scholar Moses Maimonides argued that executing defendants based on anything less than absolute certainty of guilt for the most serious of crimes would lead to a slippery slope of decreasing burdens of proof – capital punishment carried out “according to the judge’s caprice.”

Most modern-day Jewish religious leaders and scholars oppose its use, even for the most extreme crimes.

In 1948, Israel inherited the British Mandate’s legal code, including capital punishment. Israel’s first president Chaim Weizmann opposed its use.

It was rarely imposed, the last time against Eichmann. Subsequent death penalties imposed weren’t carried out.

In 2015, proposed Knesset legislation authorizing it was overwhelmingly rejected. Netanyahu and defense minister Avigdor Lieberman want it imposed for the dubious crime of terrorism – meaning anything so designated by Israeli authorities, intended only for Palestinians, not Jews.

Netanyahu expressed support for re-instituting the death penalty for terrorists, a draft measure submitted by Lieberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party, falsely claiming it would be a powerful deterrent.

If enacted, it would be another way of eliminating anyone Israel calls a terrorist, instead of just imprisoning them longterm.

The hardest of hardline Israeli extremists support capital punishment – so far way short of a Knesset majority.

It would need four readings to become law, Israel’s High Court still able to strike it down.

When previously introduced in the Knesset, it was strongly rejected. Isn’t Israeli slaughter of Palestinians throughout the Territories for decades killing enough?

Israel already carries out capital punishment against Palestinians at its discretion – 15 death sentences imposed since Trump’s unlawful Jerusalem declaration in less than three weeks alone.

How many more killings does Israel have in mind? How many more lethal shootings? How much more extrajudicial bloodshed?

Legislation isn’t needed for authorization. Defenseless Palestinians are ruthlessly killed whenever and for whatever reasons are used for eliminating them.

Do Netanyahu and Lieberman want legislation enacted to make cold-blooded murder legal? Perhaps that’s the motive behind wanting Knesset authorization.

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Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.