A bill introduced by MK Tzvi Sukkot (Religious Zionism) that alters the Counterterrorism Law and specifies that anybody who publishes words of adoration, compassion, or support for terrorists may face up to five years in prison was adopted by the Knesset on Wednesday.
33 people voted in favor of the measure, while 7 people were against it. A commotion broke out in the Knesset plenary during the discussion when MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) said in reference to the IDF operation in Jenin: “Every action has a reply. The occupation has a response, and that response is resistance. The Jenin Refugee Camp will always exist! Disdain for you!”.
Almog Cohen (Jewish Force), one of the MKs who heckled Odeh, said to him, “The blood of those murdered is on your hands; go to Gaza,” and added, “The more terrorists we kill, the better.
The Likud’s May Golan criticized Odeh, saying that “an MK stood at the podium and called for attacking Israeli citizens.” MK Zvi Sukkot labeled Odeh a “terrorist in a suit,” adding that “He’ll find himself in jail and his friends need to be expelled to Syria.
His immunity needs to be taken away. Odeh was ultimately expelled from the plenum when the uproar nearly resulted in physical altercations.
According to the proposed legislation, the Counterterrorism Law presently forbids showing support for a terrorist attack or a terrorist group, but its provisions do not give law enforcement any means of taking legal action against someone who expresses support for a terrorist who commits an attack.
The measure aims to correct this by establishing that up to five years in prison could be imposed on someone who, for example, publicly supports a terrorist on social media.
The law also does away with the requirement to demonstrate the influence of the incitement.
The demand for such proof resulted in a lot of red tape and difficulty when convicting inciters because, according to the current law, it is necessary to demonstrate that the praise could lead to subsequent acts of terrorism in order to prosecute a defendant under this provision.
The justification for MK Sukkot’s legislation reads, in part, “It is suggested to stop the probability test that is required today due to the seriousness of expressing solidarity or sympathy for an act of terror or its perpetrators.
Freedom of speech does not shield those who advocate or stand in sympathy with terrorism; such actions are terrible in and of themselves, regardless of the results they may have.
After the bill was approved, MK Tzvi Sukkot stated: “Now, when terror is striking with vigor, we need to increase the legal system’s capacity to combat incitement without delving into the realm of plausibility.
There is no need to demonstrate whether someone will murder Jews as a result of this specific sign, just as there is no need to prove that posts on social media or large posters endorsing terrorists will influence the next terrorist. Incitement is not a form of free speech, and in order to prevent future terrorist atrocities, we must step up enforcement against it.
This historic day empowers law enforcement and equips them with the means to effectively combat terrorism.