Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Opposes Death Penalty For Terrorists Bill

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said in his weekly address that he is opposed to a bill that would allow the death penalty for terrorists.

Yosef said he was concerned about a Jewish terrorist receiving a death sentence, and referred specifically to the Jewish extremists who firebombed a Palestinian home in the West Bank village of Duma, killing three people including an infant.

“He’ll need to get a death penalty verdict, he’ll deserve to die, but to die by the hands of heaven; he should get sick or be in a car crash,” Yosef said during his Saturday night lecture, Hadashot news reported.

“We are not the Sanhedrin (the biblical Jewish court). If there was a situation of a Jewish terrorist, killing them would be against Jewish law. This has nothing to do with the right and the left, it has to do with judgment.”

Yosef also pointed out that security officials have expressed opposition to the legislation, saying that it could lead to the kidnapping of Jews around the world, who would then be used to exchange for terrorists on death row.

The legislation is backed by the Sephardic Orthodox Shas party, which was started by Yosef’s late father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

The bill has passed a preliminary Knesset reading, but must still pass two further readings to become law.

Under the measure, a simple majority of judges, two in a panel of three, would be enough to sentence a terrorist to death. The bill also bans leniency after a final death sentence has been handed down.

Currently, a military court can impose the death penalty on a convicted terrorist only if the decision of the panel of judges is unanimous. It has never been employed.

The death penalty has been used in Israel once, in 1962 against Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann.

Engage

  • Events

    Haart to Haart

    Virtual

    Dec 7, 2022

    7 pm ET · 

    A conversation with Julia Haart and her son Shlomo, stars of Netflix's 'My Unorthodox Life,' about the new season and much more.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.