The far-left B’Tselem non-governmental organization (NGO) complained in a letter sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week that he is “responsible for allowing a de facto death penalty” to be meted out to terrorists on the streets of Israel.
“On Wednesday a policeman in Jerusalem shot 16-year-old Nourhan Awad of Qalandiya; she was lying on the ground without moving,” the letter began. (Ed. note: it has been edited for brevity) “Her 14-year-old cousin was shot in the same incident, also after being wounded by the initial gunfire that felled her, and she died. And the day before, soldiers shot to death Basarakat Qatnani, 16, of Nablus (Shechem), after she was wounded when she was struck and run over by a car.
“In October there were shot to death in Jerusalem Basal Sidehr and Padi Elon; the shooting at them continued after they were already wounded,” the letter continued.
(Ed. note: B’Tselem fails to point out — and may even deliberately ignore — the fact that in numerous cases, wounded Arab terrorists have risen from supine positions and resumed attacks as soon as their victims’ backs were turned. In fact, the Arab murderer in Jerusalem last month on Malchei Yisrael Street attempted to do exactly that, even as he was faced with armed security personnel.)
“In each of these five cases, we are talking about people who were already “neutralized” and yet the firing continued,” the letter goes on. “Four out of the five were killed, and the fifth was seriously wounded.
“Regardless of who tried to harm anyone or did not, there is no obscuring the harsh reality: these are executions being carried out on the street, without recourse to due process or trial, immediately and publicly; and the suspicion is further raised because in these instances, bystanders participate as well.
“Under the criminal law of the State of Israel, the death penalty was abolished more than 60 years ago, in 1954. In any case, the death penalty was never handed down as a sentence after a conviction for cases of attempted murder….” the letter went on. “Israel does not execute, period. This is a stable and well established reality that was ratified again recently in the Knesset.
“The chilling gap between the normal attitude described above and the current reality is unbearable. In fact, since your tenure the “new normal” would seem to be “shoot to kill” in any case, even when there is no longer a suspect, or the suspect no longer poses any threat.
“This situation is a direct result of the impassioned discussion of government officials and elected representatives in your coalition, winners of your silent support.
“There has been no change in the orders about how and when to open fire when security forces are out on routine operations… and of course it is not legal to fire upon someone who is already wounded; however, in practice the reality is quite different.
“Who can remain silent when security forces are acting outside the law? One cannot wash his hands of the matter. You cannot tell your ears they have not heard it. The continuing silence in view of these developments, together with the general praise of the security operations make clear the policies that you advocate and that you support.
“Silence in light of the comments of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, that “Every terrorist should know that he will not survive the attack he was going to make,” is a consent to this illegal policy.
“The lives of those who have already been shot dead cannot be brought back, but it is still not too late to stop the moral bankruptcy reflected in our current situation.
“It is your responsibility to make it clear immediately that no one has the authority to execute, and the role of the security forces is to protect the public — not less, but also not more — and not to make the security officers into executioners on the city streets.
“Best regards, Hagai Elad, executive director, B’Tselem”
Hana Levi Julian