Against the wishes of the prison authority and without the knowledge of the victim’s family, the state shortened the sentences of two men who were accomplices to the June 2017 terror attack which killed Border Police officer Hadas Malka, Hadashot news reported Monday.
The two, who had arranged the three terrorists’ illegal transportation into Jerusalem, had been found guilty of negligent manslaughter in the attack. They had not been aware that the three were planning an attack.
Malka was on patrol outside the Old City walls when she was attacked by a Palestinian assailant near Damascus Gate of the Old City in Jerusalem. While fighting her attacker, Malka was stabbed in the chest. She was transferred in critical condition to hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries.
Malka had been in a group of security personnel responding to an attack moments earlier by two other Palestinian assailants, who targeted troops with knives and an automatic weapon at the adjacent Zedekiah’s Cave. All three attackers were killed.
A Palestinian man who arranged transportation for the three was sentenced to 16 months in jail. He was reportedly released three months ago, after his sentence was reduced by a third.
A 53-year-old resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya who drove the three terrorists to the site of the attack was sentenced to 14 months, and on Monday, the parole board decided to also shorten his sentence by a third. However, after an objection from prosecutors the board delayed his release, to allow time for officials to decide whether to appeal the decision, Hadashot reported.
While regular criminals often have their sentences reduced, an Israel Prisons Service official told the news channel that he was unaware of previous cases where security prisoners saw their sentences shortened.
Hadashot also said that the authorities failed to notify Malka’s family of the decision to release the prisoners early, despite having an obligation to do so.
In a letter that Malka’s family sent to the prosecution and the prison services, and seen by Hadashot, they wrote, “Reducing the sentences by a third for these villains who transported the accursed terrorists is another stage in our spiritual death.”
The family’s lawyer said, “We are speaking of the war against terror. Any easing of the punishment shows a lenient attitude to terrorism.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement he “vehemently” opposed the release and promised that the issue would soon be settled in court.
The police investigation found that the Issawiya resident drove to Ramallah in the West Bank a day before the attack, on June 15, where he collected the West Bank residents and transported them to Jerusalem to pray at the Temple Mount during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The investigation found that the driver took them on a roundabout route through the south of the country to reach the capital. When they arrived in Jerusalem he dropped off all of the passengers at Damascus Gate.