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Despite parole board’s decision Ofer Gamliel will not be released

Tuesday, April 9 11:07 On Tuesday, April 9 the district court announced its decision to accept the State’s appeal and ordered that the prison sentence of Ofer Gamliel, a member of the Bat Ayin Underground, not be reduced by one third, despite the Israeli Prison Service parole board’s decision in favor of early release. Gamliel has already completed more than 10 years of the 15 year prison term to which he was sentenced for his part in the Bat Ayin Underground. Honenu attorney Adi Kedar stated that, “This is an erroneous decision. We will petition the Supreme Court of Israel.” In 2002 Gamliel and several other members of the Bat Ayin Underground were arrested on suspicion of planning an explosion at the exit of 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 decision on Dvir was postponed until experts gave their opinion on the possible reduction of his prison term. 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 to 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, 2013 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 the lack of a satisfactory rehabilitation-treatment program Kedar replied that throughout the years of Gamliel’s prison term the prison service opposed integrating him into the existing treatment programs in the prison on the grounds that 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. As stated above the district court judges decided to accept the appeal filed by the State and did not release Gamliel, claiming that he had not satisfactorily completed a treatment program during his prison term. It should be noted that the district court did not accept the claim made by the Attorney General’s office that the release of Gamliel would be a breach of the public’s confidence in the court and stated that the claim is not the cause for denying his release. In their decision the judges wrote that the Israeli Prison Service parole board would examine again his release at the end of the year (according to the Gregorian calendar) after he completed a treatment program. Honenu intends to petition the Supreme Court of Israel on the decision. Honenu attorney Kedar, who represented Gamliel, responded that, “We regrettably received the decision of the court and we reason that this is an erroneous decision which ignores the fact that the parole board has held many deliberations over a long period of time, approximately one year, and weighed all of the relevant considerations. The interference of the State in a decision made by the parole board is an exceptional case in and of itself and we intend to petition against the decision in the Supreme Court of Israel.”

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