Families decry call by far right to execute militants

Jason Burke Jerusalem





News | Israel-Hamas Qar

Families of Israeli hostages held by Hamas have clashed with far-right Israeli politicians who want to bring in execution as a possible sentence for captured Palestinian militants. The families said yesterday that even talk of doing so might endanger the lives of their relatives, underlining the deep divisions in Israel over how to deal with the hostage crisis. Reports have suggested Israel and Hamas are edging towards a deal that would bring the release of a significant number of the more than 240 people seized by the extremist Islamist organisation during its attack in Israel last month, possibly in return for a limited ceasefire and the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails. Israeli officials have sent mixed messages, repeatedly denying suggestions by senior US and Israeli officials, as well as the Qatari prime minister, that an agreement was close, but also hinting that progress was being made. “I beg you not to capitalise on our suffering now … when the lives of our loved ones are at stake, when the sword is at their necks,” Gil Dickmann, whose cousin is a hostage, told Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s national security minister. Yarden Gonen, whose sister Romi is among the hostages, told Ben-Gvir and his far-right party colleagues during a parliamentary panel that the proposal to introduce potential capital sentences for convicted militants would mean “playing along with [the] mind games” of Hamas. “And in return we would get pictures of our loves ones murdered, ended, with the state of Israel and not them [Hamas] being blamed for it … Don’t pursue this until after they are back here,” she said Far-right politicians, when confronted by relatives of the hostages opposing such a change, shouted that they did not have “a monopoly of pain”, in comments that appalled many Israelis. Qatar’s prime minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani, said on Sunday only minor differences between Hamas and Israel remained, but Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said no deal was reached. Netanyahu is under domestic pressure to free the hostages. The challenge of doing this while completing the goal of eliminating Hamas as a military force capable of striking Israel again has led to disagreements