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Family of Gaza hostage urges Israel not to legalise 'death penalty law for Palestinian prisoners'

The Israeli Knesset witnessed a heated session led by the minister of National security, Itamar Ben-Gvir. The session was aimed at passing a death penalty law for Palestinian prisoners, yet, received resistance from families of Israeli hostages. The families claimed the discussion of the law during times of pain for their families is ‘disrespectful’ to their suffering and their loved ones for political gain.

November 20, 2023 at 5:32 pm

A relative of an Israeli hostage in the Gaza Strip has urged Israeli National Security Minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, not to push forward with the controversial draft law on “executing Palestinian prisoners,” reported The Times of Israel. 

Addressing the Knesset National Security Committee, currently discussing the proposed legislation from Ben Gvir’s far-right Otzma Yehudit party, Gil Dickmann emphasises the risk it puts his cousin, Carmel Gat, and the hostages, stating their lives “hang in the balance” with a “sword at their necks”.

He cried as he pleaded with Ben Gvir and Committee Chairman, MK Tzvika Fogel, to reconsider advancing this legislation at this critical time, reported The Times of Israel.

He said, “I asked you, minister, already last week and I begged you to stop. I begged you not to make any capital of any kind out of us or our suffering.”

“I am here in the name of Carmel. Please, choose life and ensure they come home alive and whole. If you see us, please remove this from the agenda; if you have a heart, please do not say we are representing the people who murdered our loved ones,” he added.

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Moreover, the Hostages and Missing Families Forum issued a statement that, “The discussion at this time endangers the lives of our loved ones, without promoting any public purpose.”

Israel abolished the death penalty in 1954. Since then, it has applied long-term imprisonment that may be hundreds of years.

Last March, the Knesset approved, in a preliminary reading, a draft law that allows a return of the death penalty for Palestinian prisoners convicted of killing Israelis.

It was submitted by Ben Gvir and supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was met with a wave of Palestinian opposition.

The death penalty law has been proposed in Israel more than once in recent years, but the Knesset refused to legislate it. The draft law needs to pass three readings in the Knesset to become effective.

Israel detains more than 7,000 Palestinians in its prisons, including women and children, according to Palestinian sources.

The Israeli army said Hamas has been detaining 239 Israelis — both military and civilian — in the Gaza Strip since 7 October, after an attack by the Palestinian Resistance group.

It has since killed more than 12,000 victims, mostly women and children, flattened thousands of civilian structures and enforced a full blockade leading to a shortage of supplies, including food, fuel and medicine.

Hamas proposed a comprehensive prisoner exchange deal, under which Hamas would free all of the hostages in exchange for releasing all Palestinian prisoners.

Israel said it would free the hostages by intensifying the military operation in the Gaza Strip.

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