Article Israel: New Law Imposes Tougher Penalties for Possession, Manufacturing, and Trading of Unlawful Weapons

On December 7, 2021, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) adopted the Penal Law (Amendment No. 140, Temporary Amendment), 5782-2021 (Penal Law Amendment), requiring that over the next three years Israeli judges impose mandatory sentences on offenders convicted of certain “offenses with weapons.” Under the new law, judges must impose at least one quarter of the maximum prison sentences prescribed below for such offenses in accordance with the Penal Law 5737-1977, as amended:

  • Acquiring or possessing a weapon without lawful authority: seven years.
  • Carrying or transporting a weapon without lawful permission: 10 years.
  • Producing, importing, exporting, trading, or performing any other transaction with weapons, including giving a weapon into the possession of another — whether or not for consideration (for payment or exchange) — without having lawful permission: 15 years.
  • Selling or delivering a weapon to a person who is not lawfully entitled to have it by a person who is lawfully authorized to sell or deliver weapons: 15 years.

The Penal Law Amendment requires the minister of internal security and the minister of justice to report annually to the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on the following:

(1) The number of indictments filed by the Israel Police or the State Attorney’s Office, and the number of investigation files closed, including the reasons for the closure;

(2) In cases handled by the Israel Police or the State Attorney’s Office, the number of cases that have ended in plea bargain agreements, including with regard to punishment;

(3) The minister of internal security [will report on]–

(a) the number of investigations opened;

(b) the number of judgments and the level of punishment in the sentencings. (Penal Law Amendment § 2.)

According to the explanatory notes for the Draft Bill for Penal Law Amendment, the mandatory sentencing was designed to address the increase in shooting incidents in the country. According to the 2021 state comptroller’s report the number of such incidents amounted to 10,874 cases in 2020, reflecting an increase in the use of weapons in violent circumstances, and in the number of casualties, especially in the Israeli Arab community. The bill’s drafter further explained:

In addition to the direct harm from weapons offenses, the widespread use of illegal weapons and ammunition and their presence in civilian society harms the public’s sense of security and contributes to the increase in demand for illegal weapons. Another serious characteristic of these offenses is the ease with which a low-level conflict can quickly escalate into a fatal event solely due to the existence of a weapon within reach. …

It should be noted that minimum penalty for criminal offenses is an exceptional and unusual tool. … However, given the proliferation of illegal weapons among large groups in the population, the uniqueness of the phenomenon and its dire consequences, and, in particular, the price it exacts in human lives, there is reason to impose a minimum penalty for this offense.

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Israel: New Law Imposes Tougher Penalties for Possession, Manufacturing, and Trading of Unlawful Weapons
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Chicago citation style:

Israel: New Law Imposes Tougher Penalties for Possession, Manufacturing, and Trading of Unlawful Weapons. 2021. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2021-12-19/israel-new-law-imposes-tougher-penalties-for-possession-manufacturing-and-trading-of-unlawful-weapons/.

APA citation style:

(2021) Israel: New Law Imposes Tougher Penalties for Possession, Manufacturing, and Trading of Unlawful Weapons. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2021-12-19/israel-new-law-imposes-tougher-penalties-for-possession-manufacturing-and-trading-of-unlawful-weapons/.

MLA citation style:

Israel: New Law Imposes Tougher Penalties for Possession, Manufacturing, and Trading of Unlawful Weapons. 2021. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2021-12-19/israel-new-law-imposes-tougher-penalties-for-possession-manufacturing-and-trading-of-unlawful-weapons/>.

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