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January 17, 2012 10:19 am

Why Israel Needs the Death Penalty

avatar by Josh Hasten

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2001 Jerusalem Sbarro bombing. Photo:

An Israeli court this week sentenced the second Arab terrorist guilty of murdering five members of the Fogel family in the town of Itamar, Israel last March, to five life terms and seven years in prison.  In theory, Amjad Awad and his cousin Hakim, who was already sentenced to a similar jail term, will never see the light of day after they carried out one of the most brutal terror attacks in Israel’s history.

The Awad cousins managed to infiltrate the community of Itamar late on a Friday night, the Jewish Sabbath, on March 11, 2011 and in a combined shooting and stabbing attack murdered a mother, father, and two of their children. The monsters then re-entered the house and butchered the family’s infant daughter, who was just four months old, since they heard her cries from being awakened by the commotion.

Neither of the suspects have expressed any regret in their actions, but rather exhibited a sense of pride in their bloodletting on behalf of “Palestine.”

But the question that needs to be asked is does the punishment fit the crime? On the surface it would seem that justice was served with both terrorists receiving life sentences. But in reality recent events in Israel suggest otherwise.

This past October, captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released by his Hamas captors, who held him in a Gaza dungeon for five years, in exchange for 1,027 Arab prisoners, including some of those guilty for the bloodiest terror attacks on Israeli civilians during the so-called second intifada.

Among those released was Ahlam Tamimi the mastermind behind the Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria suicide bombing in 2001, which left 15 Israelis dead.  According to freelance writer Frimet Roth whose 15-year-year old daughter Malki was one of the victims in the attack during her sentencing Tamimi was never to be eligible for pardon or early parole. However thanks to the Shalit exchange not only is she out of prison but is living freely in Jordan with celebrity “martyr” status.

There are many other examples both as a result of the Shalit exchange and in other terrorist prisoner swaps over the years (in some cases the trades involved Israel receiving the remains of IDF soldiers in exchange for convicted Arab murderers),  where those receiving life sentences by Israeli courts were eventually freed.

The only solution to prevent this injustice from continuing, (and to perhaps increase the deterrent somewhat before terrorists act in some cases) is for Israel to institute a death penalty for those convicted of nationalistic related murders.

To date, Israel has only put to death one man – Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann for his leadership role in the attempted extermination of European Jewry during the Holocaust.  But today the Arab terrorists guilty of some of the most heinous crimes enter Israeli prisons knowing in the back of their minds that one day they will be freed.

Until recently even in the harshest of Israeli prison settings  these terrorists have been living with unimaginable freedoms including the ability to pursue higher education, having contact with the outside world (in some cases planning other attacks from inside their cells), and other fringe benefits under such a lenient system. In other words, while Gilad Shalit was denied sunlight and denied visits by the International Red Cross, some of the suicide bomber masterminds were getting their PhD’s.

This has to stop.  While implementing the death penalty won’t bring back the victims, it is the only true means of implementing justice, especially today when surviving Israeli family members have to sometimes relive their horror as their loved one’s killers’ walk free.

While some Israeli officials are currently attempting to implement a system in which disproportionate prisoner exchanges will be a thing of the past, the only full proof way to ensure that these terrorist murders will never be free is by putting them to their deserved deaths.

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  • Salvage, I agree…there WILL be a day!!! The Wrongs will be made right!! These terrorist may study in your prisons, but God SAYS when their soul will be required of them!! It may be the day they get out!!! I think of Israel as Gods choosen…it saddens me to think that there is not more trust in Him!! They will LOSE in the Big Picture!! Count on it!!!! And I believe they’re running out of time and KNOW it!!!

  • Pusheter Yid

    There is a basic understanding between human beings of things being wrong/right, good/bad and just/unjust.

    As we all know, there is no universal governing body or agreed upon leger. Over the course of time, humans have outlined their perception of these parameters within their society naming them “law” and enforcement named “justice”. Some societies have based their law on common sense, others on belief.

    Law is an understanding of rights, wrongs, punishments and rewards in order to facilitate life of peace and unity amongst those who abide.

    Ever since the world was created, physical force was used as a means to impose ones will or views on the other, one society on the other. Ironically, force has been used to enforce “Justice” which was initiated to eliminate force. This is a never ending vicious circle and the reality we are all living and dying.

    As the world developed, an inter-society understandings were born which consisted of rules and principles governing the relations and dealings of societies with each other. Now we call it International Law.

    Killing of citizens, unarmed men, women and children is considered wrong/bad/unjust especially when unprovoked. Whilst most actions are reversible or can be compensated. Death is terminal and incompensatable (I made that word up).

    Indeed, killing a murderer will not return life to the victim nor will it appease any mourner. It is hardly a punishment, as it is a one second process, (especially when the individual thinks Mohamad, Paradise and 72 girls are going to welcome him on the other side). And should the Judicial System be mistaken, the punishment would be irreversible.

    Therefore in today’s day in age, capital punishment has not been widely embraced. Rather, isolation (prison) of the killer facilitates punishment and guarranty that this action will not be repeated by the perpetrator and acts as a deterrent for others not to transgress.

    The current situation of “prisoner swapping” has defeated the course of punishment, guaranty of irrepetition (another made up word) or deterrent to others.

    Capital punishment is an easy way of solving this predicament when you’re on this side of the fence. However, you must contemplate that it may in fact cause our enemies to adopt a similar method with your own people, either in the present or in the unpredictable future. Hence defeating the ultimate purpose of avoiding further bloodshed of your own people.

    I think there is no “fool proof” solution to this predicament. We simply live in a unjust and unbalanced world.

    We must take every day as it comes and try to always be one step ahead.

    And hey, soldier, next time just dont get caught 🙂

    • For the Posheter Yid,
      You are not familiar with the actual conditions in Israel. In fact I am not sure you even live here. If you did you would know that many of these hardcore terrorists love the 5 start hotels in Israel where they can also get a College degree, etc. Nevermind how much this costs the Israel taxpayer (me), most of them know they will be released long before the end of their life terms. I am for the death penalty because I believe it save innocent lives (since many of these terrorists come back a second and a third time). Posheter Yid2

  • Anil Dixit

    I believe in death penalty in rarest of rare cases.Mass killings and religious killings must be awarded with death penalty because they are committed by cold-blood-sinners.

  • jerry R. (las vegas)

    Josh, your article is both logical and thoughtful. In such murdeous times, the death penalty is a reasonable and fair sentence,such as you identified in the case of the killing of an entire family.

  • Joe

    Exactly. If Israeli response to Palestinian terrorism would be as brutal as American operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the whole heroic “resistance” would be over long ago.

  • salvage

    Yeah, Israel needs to kill more Palestinians, that’s been the problem, not enough death in the Middle East, more will be sure to solve all their problems.

    You are very smart.

    • Annmaria

      He isn’t exactly a Palestinian civilian. He and his friend broke into a home late at night and held down a screaming,terrified 3 and 11 year and stabbed them to death then stabbed their parents,and a 3 month old babysister to death in her crib. And as far as I know neither man has shown any remorse for the brutal murders. I personally don’t believe in the death penalty. But if there was ever a case for one this is certainly it.

      • DrSnark

        Amen to that.

      • salvage

        >I personally don’t believe in the death penalty. But if there was ever a case for one this is certainly it.

        Then you believe in the death penalty, you can’t sort of be for it, either you think it’s acceptable to kill in the name of justice or you don’t.

        What they did was barbaric and they should be in prison for the rest of their miserable lives (a worse punishment I think) because murder is wrong. It was wrong when they did it and it would be wrong for the Israel to do it now.

    • MW

      considering that those that MURDER…with life sentences…then go FREE w.o repentance or rehabilitation. yeh. they need to be hung. how come no criticism of the arabs who kill? or the persians who massacre gays? or the egyptians who massacre copts/christians? death penalty–by court/jury–ensures they will not do so again…and can greet their divine maker and virgins-in another world.

      • salvage

        Let’s say Israel executed every single terrorist they ever caught.

        Would Israel be terrorist free as a result?