Capital punishment for capital crimes

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Six years ago last week, a bomb went off in the Frank Sinatra Cafeteria at Hebrew University's Mt. Scopus campus. Seven students were murdered. The attack was the work of a Hamas cell from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

The Silwan cell was one of the most prolific and murderous cells Israel has seen. In addition to the massacre at Hebrew University, its four members carried out the massacre at Moment Café in Jerusalem in which 12 were murdered; the Sheffield billiards club bombing in Rishon Lezion, which left 16 dead; and the bombing of railroad tracks in Lod. The cell's most horrendous attack, however, is generally downplayed.

In May 2002, the group planted a bomb in a fuel tanker and detonated it as the tanker stood on line to refuel at the Pi Glilot fuel depot. Miraculously, the cell had attached their bomb to a diesel tanker. Since diesel fuel is not as flammable as regular gasoline, the blast was insufficiently strong to blow up the fuel depot as they had planned. Had they managed to attach their bomb to a gasoline tanker, the blast would likely have resulted in a fireball that could have killed thousands.

Pi Glilot fuel depot is located in one of the most densely populated areas of the country. It is adjacent to North Tel Aviv, Ramat Hasharon and the Glilot junction which, when the bomb went off, was filled with bumper-to-bumper traffic. Given the magnitude of its foreseeable and sought for carnage, the attack on Pi Glilot constituted an act of genocide.

For their activities, three members of the cell were convicted of 35 counts of murder and several counts of attempted murder (210 people were wounded in their attacks). They received 35 consecutive life sentences and additional decades for their non-lethal attacks. The fourth member was convicted of assisting murder and was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

THE CRIMES of the Silwan cell bear recalling today as the lame duck Olmert-Livni-Barak government continues its negotiations with Hamas toward the release of IDF Sgt. Gilad Schalit, whom the terror regime and its terror partners have held hostage since June 2006. Hamas is demanding that in a three-stage swap, Israel release a thousand terrorists for Schalit. Hamas has made clear that it demands senior terrorists and convicted murderers including  Fatah terror master Marwan Barghouti, PFLP commander Ahmed Sa'adat and an unknown number of additional murderers.

In late June, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's hostage negotiator Ofer Dekel provided Hamas the names of 450 terrorists that Israel is willing to release in the first stage of the deal. Although their identities were not revealed to the public, it can be assumed that among them are convicted murderers. Olmert recently told the government that Israel will have to redefine what it means by terrorists "with blood on their hands" in order to relax the criteria for releasing murderers and attempted murderers in exchange for Schalit. Moreover, several ministers are actively lobbying for Barghouti's release.

To date, no one has publicly raised the prospect of releasing murderers like the Silwan cell members. But this is no cause for relief. Even if they are not released in a deal to free Schalit, there is no reason to assume that they will die in prison.

In 2004, Israel refused to release baby-murdering Samir Kuntar in exchange for the bodies of soldiers Adi Avitan, Benny Avraham and Omar Sawayid, and for drug dealer and Hizbullah agent Elhanan Tannenbaum. Instead, Israel released Hizbullah commanders Mustafa Dirani and Abdul Karim Obeid – men who were supposed to only be released in exchange for IAF navigator Ron Arad who was kidnapped in 1986. Once Dirani and Obeid were released, Israel had no one left except Kuntar to release in exchange for the mutilated corpses of IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser last month. So too, if Israel releases a thousand mid-level terrorist murderers as well as Barghouti and Sa'adat for Schalit, it will have set the stage for the release of mass murderers in the next go-round.

ALL OF this raises the issue that polite Israeli society insists on sweeping under the rug: Israel's repeated willingness to release terrorists for live and dead hostages makes clear the need to implement the death penalty against terrorist murderers.

The criminal code permits the death penalty to be used in cases of treason, murder, crimes against humanity, genocide and crimes against the Jewish people. The problem is not the laws on the books; the problem is the state prosecution's refusal to use them. Regardless of the nature of their crimes, the State Attorney's Office refuses to request that judges sentence terrorists to death.

After the members of the Silwan cell were arrested in the fall of 2002 and the enormity of their crimes was made known, there was a relatively concerted public campaign to lobby then attorney-general and current Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein to request the death penalty for the cell members. But he never considered it.

The fact that another irresponsible government would be liable to one day release them in exchange for hostages seems not to have bothered him. Then, too, Rubinstein seems not to have been bothered by the fact that these men, and thousands like them continue to constitute a grave danger. In prison they are free to plot and order the carrying out of still more attacks. Several murderous attacks have been ordered by prisoners who communicate their orders through their lawyers, their family members and even on the telephone. Moreover, while in prison they are free to draft their fellow prisoners into their genocidal ranks. Since many of these fellow prisoners were convicted of lesser crimes, they will be released to kill still more Israelis after being radicalized in prison by the likes of the Silwan gang.

IT IS not surprising that none of these facts played into Rubinstein's calculations when he opted not to ask the judges to sentence the Silwan gang to death. Quite simply, the rarified intellectual and moral universe that he, his successor Menahem Mazuz and their fellow prosecutors inhabit is not the intellectual and moral universe that most Israelis live in. The prosecutors live in a world in which morality is an abstract issue, best adjudicated by professors, judges and themselves in the name of enlightened humanism.

The country's professoriate, which enjoys an intimate relationship with its legal fraternity, long ago dropped any semblance of propriety in its enthusiastic embrace of anti-Zionist causes. Their top-to-bottom moral derangement was clearly on display last week when a day before the sixth anniversary of the Hebrew University massacre, the university's president, Menahem Magidor, joined his fellow university presidents in signing a letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak demanding that the Defense Ministry stop barring Palestinian students who constitute security risks from studying in Israeli universities.

The university presidents wrote the letter in support of a petition to the High Court of Justice by the anti-Zionist NGO Gisha which is demanding the court bar the security services from preventing Palestinian students from studying in Israeli universities or prevent them from studying subjects like nuclear physics that could facilitate the pan-Islamic war effort against the Jewish state. Gisha's petition was signed by some 450 senior and junior faculty members from all Israeli universities.

Ironically, the university presidents issued their missive 10 days after the Shin Beit (Israel Security Agency) announced it had arrested six Israeli Arabs suspected of membership in al-Qaida. Two of them were students at Hebrew University. One of the students is accused of planning to assassinate US President George W. Bush by downing his helicopter during his visit in May.

In light of the legal and intellectual elites' pathological refusal to recognize the murderous character of Palestinian terrorists and Isra
el's duty to defend its citizens from murder, it would make sense for the Knesset to circumscribe their authority to adjudicate morality from the bench and the lectern. The Knesset could amend the criminal code to require the death penalty in cases of terrorist murder.

Unfortunately, such an effort by the Knesset would likely not suffice to force their hand. Either the prosecutors would indict the terrorists on lesser charges or the judges would declare the amendments unconstitutional, or both.

The Supreme Court's refusal to simply acknowledge Israel's duty to defend its citizens was made clear by its handling of the anti-Zionist Left's 2001 petition to bar the IDF from conducting targeted killings of terrorists. Although the measure is perfectly legal, the court took five and a half years to issue its ruling that the IDF is in fact legally entitled by customary international law to target terrorists. Why there was even a question that the IDF has the right to target illegal combatants engaged in an illegal terror war is unclear. Yet even in its self-evident ruling, the Court invented limitations on the tactic to demonstrate its concern for the well-being of terrorist mass-murderers.

The recidivism rates of terrorists released in hostage swaps alone make clear that hostages-for-terrorists swaps endanger Israeli citizens. And in light of the moral depravity of our intellectual and legal elites, it is clear that legislative action alone cannot remedy the current situation in which even the most monstrous terrorists can safely assume that they will one day be released. The public must involve itself in the issue.

THE FIRST step in a campaign calling for a mandatory death penalty for terrorist murderers would be to conduct a poll on the issue. To date, no major polling institution has conducted a poll of public opinion on the death penalty.

Beyond that, student activists should band together to oppose their professors' call for the Defense Ministry to stop conducting security checks of potential students. A new student organization, "Im Tirtzu," was formed last year to combat the anti-Zionist claptrap disguised as academic research being propagated by their professors. It is already organizing such a campaign and its efforts should be supported.

Finally, the public must make clear, through demonstrations and e-mail campaigns to political leaders and to the mass media, that it demands both an end to the hostages for terrorists swaps and the death penalty for convicted terrorist murderers. It is now, as our politicians gear up for elections, that they are most prone to listen to us.

It is hard for private citizens to take a public stand. But between our governmental instability, the weakness of our political leaders and the perfidy of our elites, it has fallen to us to make our demand for security and responsible leadership clear. Until we can be certain that murderers like Kuntar and the Silwan gang will never harm us again, we will not be able to sleep soundly in our beds.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

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  • Timothy Kriete For Israel Forever AMEN 08/05/2008 at 6:34

    Caroline Glick My Precious Sister I Agree, What
    Is Sad TO ME Personally Is That Olmert And His
    Gang Think That Hamas Will SPARE Them, When They
    Are Just As Much A Target As Anyone Else. I Was
    In Israel 2006 When Sgt. Schalit (Cpl. Schalit
    At That Time, I Am Glad They Promoted Him AMEN)
    Him, The Others In The Tank With Sgt. Schalit
    Were Murdered. That Was My 1ST Trip To Israel
    and On My Last Day There Is When The Terrorists
    Used A Tunnel They Had Dug To Attack The IDF
    OUTPOST At Kerom Shalom. Forgive My Spelling
    Errors But I Recall It CLEARLY, I Was Packing
    For My Return Flight To The USA, Listening To
    CNN News As I Was Packing, When The News Came
    On CNN About The Attack By Hamas, And The
    Details. It Was June 26, 2006 A PART OF ME
    I AGREE With You Sis 100%, Capital Crimes Merit
    CAPITAL PUNISHMENT! I Believe It Is Merciful To
    Take The Lives Of The Evil People Whom Have Evil
    In Their Hearts To Do Evil To Israel And The
    Jewish People World Wide AMEN. I Have A Heavy
    Heart Daily For Israel And The Jewish People
    World Wide Caroline My Precious Sister, I Have
    Heavy Heart Daily For The USA And The
    spiritually BLIND FOOLS That Believe That Human
    Government Will Ever Solve Anything. The Book
    Of The Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel Declares What The
    LORD OUR God Says About Everything Happening NOW
    And Forever World Wide. Ray Charles, God Bless
    His Talented Soul, Saw This Clearly Even While
    He Was Alive And WAS Blind Most Of His Life, It
    Is The EVIL spirits In The HEARTS Of Men & Women
    World Wide That Brings The Judgements Of The
    LORD Our God Jehovah EL Shaddai Upon ALL Nations
    And ALL Peoples Sis. I Refuse To Believe That
    The LORD Wants These Things To Happen, Thus I
    Shall Never Lose HOPE That The LORD Our God Will
    Surely Protect Israel The Apple Of His Eyes
    AMEN. I Love You ALL And You Can’t Do Anything
    About It, Stay Strong Caroline My Precious Sis,
    Sound The Shofar For Zion’s Sake Eternally AMEN.
    Isaiah 57, Isaiah 62, Genesis 12:1-3 AMEN

  • Nick Hawkins 08/05/2008 at 7:30

    Seriously, you are my favorite political writer. You are amazing in so many ways.

  • Phil S 08/05/2008 at 7:38

    Death penalty for terrorists —> no brainer.

  • Marc Handelsman, USA 08/05/2008 at 13:58

    Meshuguna jurisprudence is where convicted terrorist murderers are not executed, but released, thus rewarding jihadists, and undermining the rule of law. For example, it was a travesty to swap convicted murderers for dead IDF soldiers. As long as the Israeli Supreme Court establishes illogical precedents, there will be more dead soldiers and civilians. Israel needs a constitution, and a clear separation of powers to hold judges accountable. Some jurists are playing legalistic gymnastics with the criminal code, which is jeopardizing Israel’s security, and the people must rightly oppose this.

  • Timothy L. Pennell 08/05/2008 at 14:07

    What ever happened to ‘NEVER AGAIN”? STOP with the Life Sentences. DEATH! DEATH! DEATH! If you guys are TOO WEAK to do what has to be done, you can send this SCUM to TEXAS. They kmow how to handle these types of “Tough Guys”. And FORGET ABOUT that other troop. He’s DEAD. Stop trading 1000 LIVE TERRORISTS for ONE CORPSE. In case you haven’t noticed, TIME is running out. Don’t ‘negotiate’ with these animals, put them down.

  • Marcel Cousineau 08/05/2008 at 16:40

    The death Penalty only applies to the nation of Israel.
    Israel tries so hard to be loved by the world that she is fearful to anger them by any true justice for such henious crimes ,too afraid to carry out much deserved justice.
    Israel ignores God’s commands ,yet they grovel before the nation’s which have in unision sentenced Israel to death by their false peace process.
    When the cruel are afforded what the good and righteous innocent’s among us are not given that nation is on it’s last leg before fire falls down from heaven.
    Israel is about to be shaken to it’s foundations and not by any political process or court.
    When the dust settles ,the evil,godless unJews who are cruel to the little flock of righteous Jews and reward treachery and wickedness will be gone,as it was in the days of Nebuchadnezzar,Noah and Sedom.
    The forces of evil protect their own and it’s only those Israeli Jews who fear and obey God who are targeted by the evil,godless unJewish left.
    It’s impossible to legislate morality in the hearts of wicked,perverted people.
    Thru history when people have become this perverted in rewarding and protecting evil and never miss an opportunity to be cruel to the righteous intervention has never come by way of courts or politics but from above, fire and brimstone,destruction.
    It looks like the missles aimed at Israel from Iran ,Syria,Lebanon are meant to accomplish what God accomplished in Sedom and Gomorrah, Pompeei and numerous other civilizations that forgot God’s laws and replaced them with their own perversions.
    The Holy one of Israel will once agian set things right and the remnant of Israel will have learned the fear of God and there will no longer be any leftist remaining in Israel who war againsr Him with their unrighteous deeds.
    The bullseye from heaven is on their heads and God’s patience has run out for those who oppress His small loyal Jewish flock and always reward His enemies. Justice comes from above nor the corrupt,perverted Knessett and its assorted political partie’s.

  • Timothy Kriete For Israel FOREVER AMEN 08/05/2008 at 20:26

    I Agree My Precious Brothers And Sisters
    SHOFAR FOR ZION’S SAKE AMEN! Marcel My Brother
    Keep On Keeping On, I Pray 1 Day Soon Israel,
    The USA, And The Rest Of The World Elect BOLD
    Righteous Seeking Men And Women Not Corruptable
    By Perks Under The Table, So To Speak. If Zipi
    Livni Becomes Prime Minister I Pray She Becomes
    Bold As The Lion Of The Tribe Of Judah AMEN. I
    LOVE You ALL And You Can’t Do Anything About It.

  • charles soper 08/05/2008 at 22:47

    Absolutely agree with this proposition, Kuntar’s return was a disgrace, and so is negotiation over Barghouti’s future leadership.

  • yaakov kirschen 08/06/2008 at 13:36

    great piece
    I’m doing a cartoon in support of your idea
    and will link to your article
    Dry Bones

  • Marcel Cousineau 08/06/2008 at 14:35

    Israel’s large stockpile of catastrophic and costly decisions since submitting to U.S. dominance under the lie of peace, instead of fighting against it.
    1.Signing onto the Road Map agreement after the total failure of the Oslo agreement.
    2.Not holding the Palestinian’s accountable to their failure to adhere to any part of the agreement and succumbing to U.S. pressure to keep moving into the cattle cars to the peace camps.
    3.Allowing Palestinian terrorists to return to Israel from Tunisa ,setting up a terrorist base in the heart of Israel
    4. Allowing the Palestinians to have weapons
    5.Retreating from South Lebanon, May 2000
    “A soldier named Roni, with six years experience in the SLA, related that on “Monday night at eleven o’clock we got a call from the Israelis telling us that Hizbullah is approaching and telling us to leave.”5 Another soldier said, “We could have stopped them with our weapons,” but the IDF did not shoot and would not allow the SLA to shoot either. A couple from the village of Kawkaba fled with their two children, leaving behind their two-story house, shoe store, and car.Another man from Klay’a, whose family members had been working with Israel in military and economic affairs since 1975, fled leaving behind extensive personal property and assets.6 All together, about 6,500 dispossessed Lebanese fled into Israel, which was unprepared for such large numbers of refugees. Apparently, Israeli authorities had expected only 500-plus Lebanese senior intelligence personnel and officers, and their families, to end up in Israel.Thus did the decision for an IDF withdrawal cause the SLA to disintegrate and create havoc among its forces. Southerners feared being massacred immediately by Hizbullah or being tried and tortured as “enemies of the state” by the Beirut authorities.”
    6.Capitulating to U.S. pressure to retreat from Gaza removing thousands from their homes and land for rockets and terrorist attacks in return ,again allowing the U.S. to trample it’s sovereignty at will bringing catastrtophic results and not peace, again.
    7.Surrendering the Rafah crossing of Gaza to Egypt under pressure from the Bush ,Rice team ,allowing unlimited smuggleing of even more lethal weapons to be used against Israel under the false peace agenda of President Bush
    8. Electiing weak leaders without the courage to stand up to suicidal demands of a suppposed ally and friend
    9.Not defeating Hezbollah in the 2nd Lebanon war during the summer of 2006,allowing the Bush ,Rice team to call P.M. Olmert and tell him to retreat the IDF from crossing the Litani river before the job was done.
    10.Accepting the U.S.,French brokered U.N. ceasefire before defeating Hizbollah which has become much stronger and has more missiles aimed at Israel’s cities and military bases.
    11.Trusting the UN to fulfill it’s obligations under resolution 1701 which as anyone but an Israeli politician knew would be a total failure.
    Barak: UN resolution on Lebanon war is a failure
    “In another triumph for Iran, the government of Lebanon reportedly will legalize the Hezbollah militia and guarantee its right to “liberate or recover occupied lands”, that is, to attack Israel. Two years after a United Nations resolution requiring the disarming of Hezbollah ended a regional war, Iran’s military presence in Lebanon will obtain official status, without a harrumph from the US State Department”.
    12 All of these acts of appeasment for no peace int return at the behest of a false ally has emboldened and strengthened your enemies and will cost you greatly because you ignored God’s policy in dealing with oyur enemies.You have lost all the deterrence you had acquired over the many wars you fought because you listened to Carter,Bush,Clinton,Bush.
    Sadly, Israel will pay a price for the insanity and folly of the FAITHLESS leaders whom they continue to elect.
    13. Last and worst of all ,Disobeying the Holy One of Israel in acheiving peace His way.
    Choosing instead to continue down the failed ,cursed path of President Bush and his Satan inspired Road Map.
    Exodus 23
    I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee. And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land. And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee. Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.

  • Drew Neal 08/06/2008 at 21:07

    It boggles my mind; that the Israeli courts and universities are more suicidal than American ones. Last month, Iran hung (another) dozen or so- no big deal.
    Some might say hanging them only makes them martyrs. They are already martyrs in the eyes of their ‘people’. People like slinging statistics about- “85% released go back to commit more crimes, etc. Here’s a true statistic: %100 of all these “martyrs” never committed a crime again.
    Until the courts wake up, the IDF should start finding that increasingly, their enemies resisted arrest and decided to fight it out with them. That they preferred death to incarceration…
    I hope you get to read this, Ms. Glick, and decide to contact me- I have another thing I’d like to discuss with you.

  • David Custis Kimball 08/07/2008 at 6:15

    Death Not Cruel — Never Unusual
    Justice, Righteousness and Life Proclaim Death to All…, but the devil is in the details….So let’s look at some details….
    To say death is cruel is perhaps a short term emotional response to the loss of anyone who we care about. I felt it particularly when I lost my mother and remember where we had our last conversation, and she assured me from the hospital bed that she was feeling better and yes she’d love to see me if I could get away and travel the 340 miles comfortably. She was 96 and died of an aortic infarction caused in part by the Vioxx arthritis medicine she was taking. She had just had a party and still drove a car and did needlepoint.
    To say death is unusual is absurd…we are all certain to die, and it is most important that we do, just as certain cells in our body die….called apoptosis… to make way for the younger, more vibrant and healthy cells.
    So death as a punishment is at worst cruel in the short term for at most the persons who would miss the person. It is never unusual to die…but one might argue that being hit by lightning while eating breakfast inside your home and a strand of hair is found having penetrated a crack in a window pane…that is an unusual way to die..but the death itself is unfortunately common in the emotional short term and fortunate for the species and those who will face hopefully a vibrant world.
    Forbidding the DEATH PENALTY is cruel and unusual, for one: just because the opposite is so obviously necessary and commonplace.
    It is cruel to disallow death as a penalty in that society as a whole must bear the burden of tolerating this individual who would hate and destroy and produce offspring who would likely be a great burden and have a difficult time. As much as we hate to admit that genetics has an influence, it has been shown to be significant significantly.
    Particularly, I am anxious to oblige any islamist who wishes his full due upon his death of the 72 year virgin ala Alan Dirshewitz (sp).
    If there is a place secure enough and if there is no burden upon society, then the sparing of life can have a valid argument. It is incumbent upon that arguer to prove both the security and no burden conditions are met…or else they would visit the death penalty. A close thing to the no burden condition is the Sheriff in New Mexico who keeps his prisoners in pink underwear in a army surplus tent in the desert and feeds them rice and beans…or anything that might haplessly wander near the kitchen…but that only satisfies the condition of …no burden. Security is very much compromised in many places, especially Israel….. but floating on a raft on the dead sea comes to mind…but I’m not willing to stake my life on it…..until someone does….lets just put them out of our misery…relieve us of their evil life.
    Allow them to become martyrs to their own cause in their own minds and perhaps trade them for some living prisoners who have been cruelly kidnapped or shot down or otherwise chosen to defend the great countries of free and generous people such as Israel and the United States.
    We might remember how man came into slavery and captivity…lost freedom. I couldn’t put it more carefully than Isaiah. We will starve feeding evil…and have no knowledge of how we got there…to weak and too resigned ourselves and hoping for the uncruel and usual death…but we will receive only enslavement and misery…sort of like being in prison…a most cruel and unusual life to be put in.
    Isaiah 5:13
    Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.

  • s m 08/07/2008 at 12:22

    Hello Caroline
    i just diecovered your column. i want to encourage my Jewish friends, that despite olmert’s treachery, that the BIBLE does say in the last 2 sentences of the prophet Amos that Israel will live in their land forever. Since th Lord is Israel’s salvation from it’s troubles then olmert’s treachery will be repaid for the evil that it is because the Lord doesn’t forget the cry of hte oppressed.

  • JAy 08/08/2008 at 10:07

    The criminal code permits the death penalty to be used in cases of treason, murder, crimes against humanity, genocide and crimes against the Jewish people.
    Besides the Arab terrorists, these crimes are exactly what Olmert, Peres, Beilin and many other politicians have commited against the State of Israel over the years.
    Yes, lets bring back the death penalty so we can rid Israel of this cancer that slowly destroys us from the inside!
    Another fantastic clear and concise article you have written…..kudos.


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