Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher; Photo credit: Honenu
Thursday, July 15, 2021, 20:42 Honenu strongly objected to the early release of one of the three terrorists who set a fire near Neve Tzuf approximately five years ago and filed a letter of objection on behalf of the injured parties. Following that, a matter of hours before the release request would have been raised with the parole committee, the terrorist withdrew his request. He will serve the complete prison term sentenced to him, approximately eight years. In the objection to the early release, a representative of the Neve Tzuf residents wrote: “I submit my opinion in the name of the dozens of crime victims, the Neve Tzuf residents whose homes and property were burned and whose lives will not return to what they were prior to the horrific fire. I vehemently oppose any early release or easing of the prison conditions of the prisoner who, with his friends, carried out the terrible crime.” The detailed letter of objection that Bleicher sent described the fire: “On the night of Shabbat, 25/11/2016, the three prisoners set fire to a grove adjacent to the community of Neve Tzuf (Halamish) and caused a huge fire that damaged dozens of residential houses and came extremely close to causing loss of life.” Bleicher noted that the military court ruled that the motivation for the arson fire was nationalistic. The damage included 17 residential houses that were completely torched, 5 that were heavily damaged, and 20 that were significantly damaged. Many cars were torched and 169 dumans of natural groves and forest were torched. The total damage was appraised at 25,000,000 NIS. Bleicher explained that despite the fact that it was an unprecedented incidence of arson, with such great damage, the maximum penalty for arson without injuries was ten years’ imprisonment. Accordingly, the terrorists were sentenced to prison terms within that range “even though the penalty did not begin to express the severity of the contemptible act.” Among the grounds for the objection: “It is difficult to express in words the extent of the damage to someone who has lost their house and all of their property in an arson attack. It is even more difficult to describe in words an entire community of people who have experienced such a difficult crisis. Many people bear scars from the incident. Such a severe attack on so many people does not leave any room for considering leniency of penalty for the convicted.” Bleicher noted that the court ruled that the terrorists acted out of a nationalistic motive, and that at least two out of the three have a record of terrorist acts. “Every day that these terrorists are kept in jail is another day that is safer for the citizens of Israel.” Additionally, Bleicher is of the opinion that if the penalty for the arson is lightened, the potential terrorists will regard arson attacks as an inexpensive strategy for causing potentially heavy damage. He added that early release of the terrorists would greatly damage the trust that victims of terror have in the judicial system and increase their feelings of danger and powerlessness with regard to terrorists who receive lenient and merciful treatment. “Early release of a terrorist constitutes great harm to citizens of Israel,” concluded Bleicher.