Israeli Supreme Court Justice Slammed for Consoling Terrorist's Family

In his court ruling, Justice Neal Hendel initially expressed sorrow over the death in prison this week from cancer of terrorist Sami Abu Diak

Israeli Supreme Court Justice Neal Hendel
Rami Shllush

An Israeli Supreme Court justice sparked criticism on social media on Wednesday with a ruling in which he included condolences to the family of a terrorist who died in an Israeli jail earlier this week. In response to the criticism, the court removed the original court decision from its website and later reposted it without the expression of condolences.

The court’s official explanation for the move was that the ruling had been delivered only by Justice Neal Hendel, but needed to be issued by three justices.

The terrorist, Sami Abu Diak, was serving three life sentences for the murder 18 years ago of Ilya Krivich, in addition to other charges, including kidnapping and attempted murder, arising out of other terrorist attacks. About a year ago, Abu Diak was hospitalized with cancer at Assaf Harofeh Hospital at Tzrifin. He had petitioned the High Court of Justice to be able to receive medical treatment that he claimed he was not being given.

After he died, his lawyer, Kamil Natour, sought to withdraw the petition. Hendel granted the request on Wednesday, and in his decision, added: “I hereby share the family’s sorrow.”

An organization of Israeli bereaved families, Bohrim B’haim, with the support of the right-wing organization Im Tirtzu, promptly demanded that Hendel apologize to the Krivich family. “We hope the honorable judge didn’t mean the words he signed onto, since that would involve a bizarre insult to Ilya Krivich’s family and the feelings of all bereaved families,” they said in a statement.

Another right-wing organization, Btsalmo, submitted an official complaint to the judicial ombudsman. “This is an outrageous statement,” it said. “The justice should share the sorrow of the murdered man’s family, not the terrorist’s family. We demand that the ombudsman speak with the justice about his remarks.”

The court subsequently removed the decision from the web and reposted it under the signature of Justices Hendel, George Karra and Ofer Grosskopf, and without the controversial statement.