Following murders, Israelis ask if immigration laws too lax
Peace talk efforts notwithstanding, Israelis have been transfixed by a series of high-profile violent crimes committed by two immigrants. Critics question if the door is open too wide to Jews wanting to live in Israel.
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The details of the two alleged murderers' cases have been front-page stories for days, and not just for their gruesome details. Teitel was given Israeli citizenship even though he'd already been questioned by the Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency, for the two murders of Palestinians, and had been investigated in the US as well.
Karlik, who stabbed to death six members of the Oshrenko family in their home last month in apparent revenge for being fired by restaurateur Dmitri Oshrenko, was wanted in connection to a robbery in his native Russia. Authorities in Moscow asked for his extradition two years ago, but Israel hadn't yet acted on it, saying they were waiting for evidence.
Aside from the question of immigrant criminals, Karlik's deed was particularly appalling because it involved the murder of a toddler and an infant. The case follows a handful of other grisly murders of children in the past two years.
Some Israeli politicians have reacted by proposing a law allowing for the death penalty in the cases of murdering a child under age 13. The Jerusalem Post newspaper criticized that move in an editorial, saying that it is "far easier for politicians to call for the death penalty than to undertake the hard slog of reforming the country's police, criminal justice, and penal systems."
One of the authors of the death penalty proposal, parliamentarian Carmel Shama from the ruling Likud party, says he only wants to give judges the ability to impose much stiffer sentences. As of now, he says, most convicted murderers only serve up to 15 years, and then are released.
"It's not that we automatically want the death penalty for child-killers. It's just to give the judge an option in very extreme cases, when there is no doubt the man did the crime. Or, the judge should be able to give a life sentence with no chance of parole," Mr. Shama says. "People are very shocked at the amount of violent crime against children in our country, and its obvious now that there is a lot of support for this proposal."