IDF to examine parole requests of terrorists who serve life sentences
Reports in Yedioth Ahronoth suggest a committee is expected to be set up, which will examine a possibility of shortening prison sentences of those who have been given terms of life imprisonment by military courts in West Bank; Defense Minister Lieberman: 'No terrorist will have his sentence shortened by even one hour.'
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman addressed the issue via his official Twitter account.
"As long as I am the defense minister, no terrorist will have his sentence shortened by even one hour,” Lieberman exclaimed.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also addressed the issue during a meeting of the Cabinet.
"Regarding the talk about shortening terrorists' sentences—I strongly oppose this. I know that this is also the position of the defense minister and, therefore, it will not happen," he stressed.
Currently there are dozens of terrorists in Israeli prisons who are serving life sentences, including those who carried out terror attacks on Israeli soil.
The policy, that was in place up to this point, did not allow the shortening of life sentences for terrorists. However, it has now been decided to equate the rights of those tried in military courts to prisoners who were convicted by civil courts.
The establishment of the committee will be accompanied by a legislative amendment, which is currently being drafted by the IDF.
The planned move was revealed during a hearing in the High Court of Justice (HCJ) regarding a parole request of a terrorist, who murdered the late Ziva Goldovsky, to be released from prison after serving 30 years, on the grounds that the current policy discriminates between those who are tried in West Bank’s military courts and those tried in civil courts in Israel.
The murderer, who underwent a rehabilitation process in prison, appealed multiple times to military officials, who have full sovereignty in the West Bank, with a request to be pardoned, but it had always been rejected.
During the latest hearing, the HJC judges decided once again to reject the terrorist’s appeal and not interfere with military considerations. However, as part of the appeal’s discussions, the plans for a change in the long-term policy were unveiled.
The terrorist’s appeal emphasizes the issue of alleged discrimination between trials in military and civil courts.
“GOC Central Command has almost completely ignored the issue of shortening sentences of those who have been given life in prison by military courts and went on to serve their sentences in Israeli prisons,” it stressed.
The appeal also suggested that prisoners who were tried in the Israeli prison system are free to appeal to a special release committee, whereas prisoners tried in the West Bank are unable to do so.
"The conditions of imprisonment of those tried in the West Bank—who serve their sentences in Israel, should be equal to the terms of imprisonment of those tried in Israel,” the terrorist’s legal team argued, adding the current situation is not in line with “administrative correctness,” and undermines respect for “human dignity.”
GOC Central Command and the Judea and Samaria Area Office of the Legal Advisor issued a statement in response.
"Following the examination of the matter by our staff, it was decided to establish a committee that would consider parole requests for those serving life imprisonment in the West Bank,” the statement read.
"A draft was formed by the Judea and Samaria Area Office of the Legal Advisor, amending the relevant security legislation, which has been forwarded for review by the relevant parties," the statement concluded.
Until now, prisoners serving life sentence have been released only as part of plea deals, or due to decisions made by the political echelon, not by a relevant committee or a military source.
According to legal sources, despite the establishment of the committee, the likelihood that terrorists' life sentences will be cut down are slim, but still, it constitutes a significant policy change.
The Zionist movement Im Tirtzu and Lavi watchdog organization issued a statement attacking the decision.
"The establishment of such committee will inevitably lead to a release of murderers on a massive scale, which will be a severe blow to deterrence," the statement concluded.