Former Joint (Arab) List lawmaker Basel Ghattas was released from prison Monday after completing a roughly two-year sentence for smuggling contraband to Palestinian terrorists in an Israeli jail.
Ghattas was convicted in April 2017 of exploiting his position to smuggle cellphones and notes to Palestinian terror convicts in Israeli prisons.
Ghattas was denied early release in November when a parole board ruled that he hadn’t expressed adequate remorse for his crimes and hadn’t made efforts to undergo a rehabilitation process in prison.
He subsequently appealed to gain access to a rehabilitation program that could boost his chances of being granted early release in the future. But he was then told he was not eligible for such a program, since he is classified as a security prisoner affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group — an association which Ghattas has denied.
Ghattas came under criminal investigation after being caught on prison surveillance video passing envelopes to Palestinian security prisoners in December 2016.
Police said that the MK exploited his position as a member of Knesset — who cannot be subjected to a body search — during a visit to Ketziot Prison in southern Israel, where he met with Walid Daka, a Palestinian prisoner serving a 37-year sentence for the 1984 abduction and murder of 19-year-old IDF soldier Moshe Tamam. Ghattas also met with Basel Ben Sulieman Bezre, who is serving a 15-year sentence on a terror conviction.
Daka was a member of PFLP when he committed his attack.
The Beersheba Magistrate’s Court accepted a plea bargain reached between state prosecutors and Ghattas, handing down a two-year prison term as well as 18 months’ probation and a NIS 120,000 ($33,000) fine.
الإفراج عن عضو الكنيست ال
سابق باسل غطاس من معتقل مجيدو???? ח"כ לשעבר באסל גטאס שוחרר מהכלא בתום ריצוי מאסרו pic.twitter.com/c18sPbmOJq
— |فرات نصار|פוראת נסאר|FURAT NASSAR (@nassar_furat) May 27, 2019
The court also convicted Ghattas of moral turpitude, meaning he will be barred from serving in the Knesset for seven years after completing his sentence.
As he began his jail term in July 2017, Ghattas made it clear he wasn’t sorry for his offense.
“I walk into jail with my head held high,” he told supporters before entering the prison. “I acted for humanitarian reasons on behalf of the prisoners… I will continue to fight for prisoners’ rights.”