The Nazareth District Court on Sunday affirmed the decision of a special judicial committee to return Hamas operative Vahiv Ali Abu Roub to prison for the remaining 23 years of his murder sentence, following his 2011 pardon and release during the Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange.
The court rejected the special petition of Abu Roub against a July 2014 decision by the committee to return him to prison, on the grounds that he had violated the terms of his 2011 pardon.
Abu Roub had been convicted of the 1994 murder of IDF soldier Liat Gabai, by striking her head with an ax on her way home from her base in the Golan, and had served 17 years in prison prior to his release – leaving a remaining 23 years.
The committee found that Abu Roub violated the terms of his pardon issued by former president Shimon Peres since he was involved in terrorism financing activities “which undermined state security.”
In his petition, Abu Roub attacked the fairness of the committee’s hearings, in which he only got to view a paraphrase of the allegations against him, but not the full evidence.
He also claimed that he and other Palestinians pardoned in the Schalit prisoner-exchange had been unfairly targeted, without evidence, for populist political reasons to satisfy the public’s desire for revenge, following the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teenagers in June 2014.
Further, Abu Roub said that the conditions of his pardon were overly broad and unreasonable and that viewed from the perspective of his non-involvement in any operational terrorist plans, he had stuck to his commitment to refrain from terrorist activity.
Nazareth District Court Deputy President Benjamin Arbel rejected all of the above reasons, citing evidence he reviewed from the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) as showing both that the terrorism threat in the West Bank as elevated and that Abu Roub had taken active part in aspects of it, even if he had refrained from violence.
Arbel said that the evidence presented, allowed him to reject the arguments of populism being the source of Abu Roub’s arrest.
He added that Peres and the state had discretion regarding the conditions of the pardon and that the level of evidence in the special administrative proceeding for whether a pardoned convict gets sent back to prison was much less than what was needed to get a conviction.
In December 2014, Muhammad Tzalah and Abd Taami were resentenced to life terms and Imad Musa was resentenced to 24 years and eight months in prison by a special IDF commission.
The rearrests, and the possibility of canceling pardons and the reimposing of sentences, have been in the news since June. Coverage rose to crescendo during and after the summer’s Gaza war, since Hamas said a condition for a long-term cease-fire would be the release of those Schalit- deal Palestinians who were rearrested.
The IDF formed a judicial commission to handle the irregular situation of considering whether a group of close to 60 Palestinians, released in the 2011 Schalit prisoner exchange, violated the terms of their pardons.
The return of some Schalit- deal releasees to terrorism, including one who allegedly perpetrated the Passover eve murder of police intelligence officer Ch.-Supt. Baruch Mizrahi in 2014, has proved so controversial that the Knesset has passed multiple laws to restrict future releases.
The offenses that served as the basis for the cancellation of the pardons have been contact with the enemy, usually a euphemism for Hamas or Islamic Jihad, and involvement in illegal funds transfers into the West Bank.
Many of the hearings on whether the Palestinians had violated their pardons were held in July, but no IDF decisions were handed down until just after the recent wave of terrorist attacks and the stagnation in the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation process, a prerequisite to Israel-Hamas indirect talks.