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Parole board grants release to terminally ill child killer

Zvi Gur, who kidnapped and murdered Oron Yarden in 1980, is reportedly suffering from terminal cancer; prosecutors seek stay on order

Zvi Gur (c), serving a life sentence for the murder of Oron Yarden, in the Supreme Court on July 6, 2009. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Zvi Gur (c), serving a life sentence for the murder of Oron Yarden, in the Supreme Court on July 6, 2009. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Israel Prisons Service parole board granted a request on Wednesday for early release on medical grounds of a man who has served 41 years in prison for the kidnapping and murder of a young boy. Prosecutors, however, filed an urgent appeal to delay his release by at least a week.

Zvi Gur, now 74, was ordered released on Wednesday due to his medical condition, as he is said to be terminally ill with cancer. Gur had been in the care of the hospital inside Maasiyahu Prison in Ramle, but was transferred to Shamir Medical Center south of Tel Aviv on Tuesday, still as a prisoner, due to his worsening condition.

His attorney said in a statement that Gur “lost consciousness” on Tuesday and is on life support. He is “in the last moments of his life,” his lawyer added.

Gur was arrested in 1980 for kidnapping and murdering 8-year-old Oron Yarden. He kidnapped the child near his home in Savyon and demanded a hefty ransom, which he received from the Yarden family. Gur was captured two weeks later when he deposited the money in a bank account and a teller recognized the serial numbers on the bills, which had been marked. After his capture, Gur showed police where he had buried the boy’s body in Netanya.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment and an additional 34 years for kidnapping and blackmail. In 1985, Gur was allowed to paint unsupervised on the outer walls of the prison, and managed to escape. He was captured six days later after a massive manhunt. In 1999, Gur’s sentence was commuted to a total of 45 years by then-president Ezer Weizman, and he would be up for release in 2025.

In 2019, the parole board turned down a request by Gur for early release. A 2017 parole board granted Gur release but the Lod District Court overturned the decision on the grounds that proper weight had not been given to the gravity of the crime and its unusually cruel circumstances.

Roi Yarden, Oron’s brother, told Channel 12 news that the parole board’s latest decision to release Gur was “a major disappointment.”

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