The Knesset Constitution Law and Justice Committee approved on Monday the counterterrorism bill for its final two votes in the plenum. For the first time, the criminal offense of digging a tunnel will appear in the State of Israel`s Book of Laws.

Ten committee members supported the bill, while two MKs voted against it.

Committee Chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi) called the legislation ”exemplary” and argued that ”it gives the security forces a strong law with the power to combat terror.” The committee, he added, ”also inserted balances into the law so that it will be moderate, and it will be implemented only when it will be necessary to do so.”

Justice Committee approves anti-terror bill for final plenum votes

(Justice Minister Shaked and Committee Chairman Slomiansky, archive photo)

The law is unique in that it ”draws knowledge and experience from the ground,” the committee chairman said, adding that ”representatives from around the world who are dealing with terror today came to us to learn how to balance between [combating terror] and preventing human rights violations.”

The bill grants law enforcement agencies, particularly the Shin Bet security agency and Israel Police, more tools to fight terrorism and terrorist organizations. The preamble to the bill states that the goal is to ”set legal guidelines in criminal law and administrative law, including by means of special measures aimed at fighting terrorism in general and to help prevent the establishment and activity of terrorist organizations in particular.” It also seeks to help ”prevent and thwart terrorist acts carried out by organizations or individuals.”

The bill defines the procedure for declaring an entity a terrorist organization, adds provisions for imposing travel restrictions on the leaders of such groups and their members, and describes in greater detail the punitive measures the government can take against terrorists. It also deals with asset forfeitures, land expropriations and the confiscation of homes, and expands the definition of terrorism in certain cases. The bill outlines additional measures the government can take in cases when individuals aid terrorists, are members of terrorist groups, or fail to stop terrorism.

If passed, the bill will essentially replace four existing laws and ordinances on terrorism, including emergency ordinances, and amend 14 existing articles in the law books. The bill also requires the justice minister to submit to the Knesset Constitution Law and Justice Committee an annual report on the implementation of the law and on the number of cases that end with indictments for terrorism and the incitement of terrorism. The minister would also have to report on the implementation of special orders for the detention of people suspected of major security-related violations.

MK Haim Jelin (Yesh Atid) said he decided to support the legislation when he learned how many residents of Gaza-vicinity communities took part in hostile acts for money. ”I called them traitors. We need to unite and support the bill, irrespective of political views,” he said. Fellow Yesh Atid member MK Elazar Stern, who also voted in favor of the bill, said ”the war against terror is also a war for individual rights.”

MK Osama Sa`adi (Joint List), who opposed the bill, said it constitutes a ”severe violation of civil rights,” adding ”I am against terror and against causing harm to innocent people, but not every act of resistance is considered terror.” MK Esawi Frej (Meretz) said the law allows Israel to ”apprehend any Arab and prosecute him as a terror activist.”

MK Oren Hazan (Likud) said, ”In the Knesset there are MKs who support terror and who commit offenses that are mentioned in the bill.”

The bill will now be transferred to the Knesset plenum for its second and third (final) readings.