Send terrorists to the electric chair, says extreme-Right Israeli minister

Itamar Ben-Gvir - AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images
Itamar Ben-Gvir - AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images

Terrorists should be sent to the electric chair, Israel's hardline national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said on Monday following a weekend in which a dozen Israelis were shot in Jerusalem.

“Anyone who murders, harms and slaughters civilians should be sent to the electric chair,” the extreme-Right politician said at a meeting of his Otzma Yehudit party.

Mr Ben-Gvir’s comments came as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Israel to urge de-escalation amid boiling tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

Seven people were shot dead in Friday's attack by an East Jerusalem man who was himself killed by police. Lionised by many fellow Palestinians, he had no known links to militant groups.

A day earlier, Israel carried out a raid on Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, killing 10 residents, most of them gunmen. At least 35 Palestinians, including fighters and civilians, have died in violence surging since January 1, medical officials say.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu - Debbie Hill/Pool Photo via AP
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu - Debbie Hill/Pool Photo via AP

Mr Blinken addressed reporters after landing in Tel Aviv, focusing his comments on Friday’s shooting that took place near a synagogue.

"It is the responsibility of everyone to take steps to calm tensions rather than inflame them," he said.

Friday's shooting rampage, he said, "was more than an attack on individuals. It was also an attack on the universal act of practising one's faith. We condemn it in the strongest terms.

"And we condemn all those who celebrate these and any other acts of terrorism that take innocent lives, no matter who the victim is or what they believe. Calls for vengeance against more innocent victims are not the answer."

Netanyahu calls for looser gun laws

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met with Mr Blinken on Monday, has called for more citizens to carry guns as a precaution against such street attacks. But he has also warned Israelis not to resort to vigilante violence.

Mr Ben-Gvir, an ultra-nationalist who once kept a picture of a mass-murdering Jewish terrorist on display in his living room, made the introduction of the death penalty for terrorism offences a precondition for his party entering a coalition government with Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government.

Since its founding Israel has only carried out one execution, of Nazi Adolf Eichmann in 1962. Capital punishment remains on the books but is only available for treason, genocide, crimes against humanity, and crimes against the Jewish people during wartime.