On Wednesday, February 21, 2024, the Financial Times reported that Israel is grappling with how to try hundreds of Palestinians arrested during a Hamas attack on October 7 that killed over 1,200 Israelis. This dilemma evokes memories of the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1961 when no Israeli lawyer was willing to represent him.

Similar to the Eichmann case over 60 years ago, the Israeli public defender’s office has suggested it is not prepared to defend the October 7 suspects. Some argue they should face military tribunals instead of civilian courts. However, prominent human rights lawyers call for respecting the prisoners’ right to a fair trial, despite the enormous trauma Israel suffered in the attacks.

The office has represented Hamas members in the past but said the “unprecedented” attack and “unique legal issues” require careful consideration of how to proceed. Others see the office as bowing to populist pressure. There are also proposals to bar the office from these cases and bring in foreign defense counsel, as with Eichmann.

While victims have a right to see perpetrators face justice, due process must be followed, according to human rights groups. Over four months, police have investigated thousands of hours of footage and conducted interrogations, but the shape of any legal proceedings remains unclear. Some experts warn trials could result in lost evidence not making it into indictments, fueling claims Israel fabricated elements of the attacks. Military tribunals are suggested as a quicker alternative, but critics argue this is merely a theatrical effort to claim democratic legitimacy.

On January 8, 2024, the Knesset Plenum approved the first reading of a bill aimed at amending and extending the validity of emergency regulations known as “Swords of Iron.” The proposed amendment seeks to extend the denial of a meeting with an attorney for detainees held for security offenses related to hostile acts and war actions until April 3, 2024.

TribunalForum, as the paper of record for war crimes tribunals of those participating in the October 7 attacks and those thereafter against Israel, covers procedural and substantive matters related to any such tribunal.

TribunalForum’s Publisher Judiciocracy LLC, led by CEO Edward “Coach” Weinhaus, Esq., called for defense attorneys for the accused as early as October 24.

For now, the detainees remain in custody as Israel’s justice system continues grappling with the issue of their defense.