Press Release - 4 February 1999
Don't Release Killers:
B'Tselem's response to President Weizman's decision to reduce the sentence of five Jews who murdered Palestinians
B'Tselem strongly opposes reducing the sentences of Jews who murdered Palestinians, and is appalled at the President's discrimination between a Jewish murderer and a Palestinian murderer. This is not the first time that Israel's president has reduced the sentence imposed on Jewish murderers solely because they are Jewish.
The decision is particularly surprising in light of Israel's zealous objection to the release of Palestinians with "blood on their hands."
The President's act is even more objectionable in light of the existing inequality between Palestinians and Israelis before the law:
* Since the beginning of the intifada, Israeli civilians killed 113 Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. During the same period, Palestinians killed 91 Israeli civilians.
* Of the 113 cases of Palestinians killed, only two Israeli civilians were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. In these two cases, the President reduced their sentences to 13 years' and 15 years' imprisonment.
* Thirty-eight files of Jewish killers of Palestinians were closed without initiating any legal proceeding. All the others were convicted of lesser offenses.
On the other hand, twenty-four Palestinians were convicted of murdering Israelis; all received a life sentence.
This discrimination before the law does not enjoy public support. In a Dahaf poll commissioned by B'Tselem, 87% of the Israeli public believe that a Palestinian and a Jew convicted of the same offence should receive the same punishment.