Decision to release Ofer Gamliel postponed five weeks

Tuesday, March 5, 18:22 The State of Israel appealed the release of Ofer Gamliel. The decision has been postponed for five weeks. Approximately one month ago the Israeli Prison Service parole board decided that Ofer Gamliel, a Bat Ayin Underground member who has been serving a 15 year prison sentence since 2002, would be released after reducing his sentence by a third for good behavior. The State of Israel filed an appeal on the decision. After the judges questioned both sides during a deliberation on Tuesday, March 5 the decision was scheduled for five week’s time. In 2002 Gamliel and several other Jews were arrested on suspicion of planning an explosion at the exit from a Arab girls’ school in East Jerusalem in response to an attack on the community of Adora in the Har Hevron region in which four Jews were murdered, among them a five year old girl, Danielle Shefi. Gamliel and three other members were arrested and some of them sentenced to extended prison terms. Three years ago Yarden Morag was released after the Israeli Prison Service parole board shortened his prison sentence by a third. On May 15, 2012 the Israeli Prison Service parole board met and ruled on the case of Ofer Gamliel and Shlomi Dvir, the last of Bat Ayin Underground members still in prison. In the end, the decision was postponed and on February 6, 2013 the parole board met for a second time. After a long deliberation in which the State of Israel presented its opposition, based on the opinion of the GSS, to an early release, the parole board ruled that there was no reason not to reduce Gamliel’s sentence. The ruling on Shlomi Dvir was postponed. It should be noted that former Chief Rabbi of the IDF Rabbi Avichai Ronski, had been in contact with the GSS concerning Gamliel and Dvir, and stated that GSS personnel assured him that they would not object to their release. According the Rabbi Ronski the assurance was broken by the GSS. The State of Israel announced that it would appeal the district court’s opinion on claims that the release of Gamliel would be a breach of the public’s confidence in the court and that Gamliel did not satisfactorily complete a rehabilitation-treatment process. On March 5 in court, the representative of the State presented the claims concerning the release of Gamliel. In response, Honenu attorney Adi Kedar, who is representing Gamliel, pleaded that because the State already agreed to the release of one of the prisoners in the case, there is no reason not to release Gamliel also. The judges supported Kedar’s plea and demanded that the State explain the difference between the two prisoners. In response, the representative of the State replied that although Gamliel did regret his actions he has not cooperated with the investigation. Concerning non-completion of a treatment process, Kedar replied that the Prison Services opposed integrating Gamliel into the existing treatment program at the prison because his crime was ideological, not criminal, which does not necessitate psychological treatment. Kedar expressed to the court his surprise at the change of opinion of the State which is now unequivocally demanding treatment. A decision on the release has been postponed until April 11, 2013.

Update: The decision was announced on April 9, 2013.

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