JERUSALEM (Oct. 25)
An amendment to the criminal code providing stiffer penalties for crimes of violence and other offenses passed its first reading in the Knesset yesterday. The measure. introduced by Justice Minister Yaacov Shimshon Shapiro, would make mandatory harsher sentences for criminals using firearms, criminals who operate in gangs, protection racketeers and suborners of witnesses. Shapiro said the maximum penalty for running a protection racket would be increased from one year to 3-5 years.
The need for stiffer penalties for criminals was cited recently by Police Minister Shlomo Hillel who urged capital punishment for criminals who commit murder inside jails. Hillel said there are 330 prisoners serving life sentences in Israel who feel secure in the knowledge that whatever crime they commit in jail the worst that can happen is two weeks solitary confinement.
He said a bill will soon be introduced in the Knesset allowing police to hold criminals without ball pending trial. He added that while there is no “Mafia-style” organized crime in Israel there are well organized gangs engaged in robbery and extortion.