Following a lengthy debate Wednesday evening, the Knesset plenum approved an extensive anti-terror bill with a 57-16 vote.
The new law includes, for the first time, the specific crime of digging attack tunnels. It also makes offenses like being a terrorist mastermind, even if the person did not participate in his minions’ terrorist acts, carry a life sentence. Under the new law, those using biological and chemical weapons for terrorist purposes can also get a life sentence.
Charity groups which indirectly but substantially contribute to terrorist groups can be declared illegal and many categories of those involved in such groups can be sent to prison by association.
Under the law, the defense minister can now seize financial assets even before trial, if he finds the assets relate to terrorism, much the same way he can issue administrative detention orders. Until now assets could only be seized at the indictment and conviction stages.
Also, those funding terrorists can be fined up to 20 times the amount which they were convicted of providing to terrorist groups.
The legislation makes it harder for hardcore terrorists to get parole, with terrorists who get life terms eligible to seek parole only after 15 years, and able to leave prison only after 40 years in jail.
The law also obliges the justice minister to give an annual report to the Knesset constitution panel, detailing how the law was implemented, and the number of prosecutions filed for identifying with a terror organization or for incitement.
The preamble to the legislation 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.”
While presenting the bill, MK Nissan Slomiansky (HaBayot HaYehudi), head of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, noted that it cancels 60 British Mandatory emergency statutes, ”so this is like Independence Day.”
”This is a law that lives the reality and draws its strengths and definitions from real life in the State of Israel,” he said. ”Regretfully, since the day of our establishment we have been in a constant fight against terror. Therefore, this law stems from real life; from the reality on the ground.”
MK Zehava Galon (Meretz) argued that ”the motivation for terror must be severed. The occupation fuels the factory which creates the motivation for terror. It is delusional to think that we can continue to rule over another nation after so many years and everything will continue to be calm. The fight against terror must be effective, and we mustn`t sacrifice our basic values as a country that is governed by law, as a country that protects basic human rights.”
The new law, Gal-on maintained, ”is based on archaic and hysterical legislation” and ”will not really provide the tools for combating terror. It will place us once again on the list of countries that take advantage of their democratic ability to enact anti-democratic laws.”
MK Ayman Odeh (Joint List) said the legislation will directly hurt Israel, ”because Israel maintains security cooperation with the PLO and maintains ties with the Palestinian Authority and members of the PLO. And the PLO, according to Israel`s definition, is a terror organization, ad its members belong to a terror organization. This law is part of the panic of the final stage of colonialism.”
MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) addressed the members of the Joint List faction and said that while the law is not ”simple”, it is not ”anti-Arab.” The law, he said, ”seeks to protect the citizens of the State of Israel, and let me remind you, my friends, that terror does not differentiate between those sitting at this table and those who sit at another table. You know this from experience as well. Therefore, the law is not anti-Arab, and it is not a law against the Arab citizens of the State of Israel; it is a law for the benefit of the citizens of the State of Israel.”