Knesset approves sweeping anti-terror reforms

The Knesset passes into law sweeping anti-terror reforms, with 57 lawmakers in favor and 16 opposed.

The legislation marks the first time penalties for terror attacks are enshrined into Israeli law.

Terrorism is defined in the legislation as an action or threat done out of a “political, religious, nationalistic or ideological” motive, which is designed to sow fear or apply pressure on the government or international organizations. The definition requires there to be “serious harm” to people, the public safety and health, property, religious sites — including graves — infrastructure, the economy, or the environment.

The law does not differentiate between Jews and Palestinians or soldiers and civilians.

The law also outlines procedures to designate terror groups as such, seize their assets, and detention laws for terror suspects.

In terms of sentencing, the general rule outlined in the legislation is that terrorists will receive double the jail time as perpetrators of those crimes without a terror motive, but no more than 25 years. But it also details specific sentences for various terrorism offenses:

• Leader of a terror group — 25 years. But if the group carried out lethal attacks, the leader is given a life sentence.

• Other administrative positions in the terror organization — 10 years.

• Membership in a terror group carries a five-year sentence, and for those active in the organization, a seven-year sentence.

• Recruiters get seven years, and accomplices five years, unless they can prove they didn’t know they were working for a terror group. The law doesn’t differentiate between accomplices paid or unpaid, and says if they were suspicious but didn’t investigate whether they were working for a terror group, they will be liable for prosecution.

• Publicly identifying with a terror group, including publicizing praise, waving the terror group’s flag, or singing its anthem can carry a three-year sentence.

• A person who has concrete information about an attack, but fails to report it — 3 years in jail.

• And terror threats can land people in jail for seven years.

• Arms dealing for terror groups carries a 20-year sentence or 10 times the fine, and for chemical or radioactive weapons — 25 years or 20 times the fine.

• Terrorists who carry out a mass casualty attack will receive life sentences. Those who use chemical or radioactive weapons or target “sensitive sites” will similarly get life sentences.

For life sentences, there will be no requests for presidential pardons for 15 years and the parole board will recommend the culprits remain jailed for 40 years, the legislation says.

The legislation also allows the courts to hear testimony without the defendants present under some circumstances, and permits it to accept some intelligence information as testimony.