Stiffer Sentence for Man who Stole Palmer's Gun?

Relatives of slain Asher and Yonatan Palmer hope court session Wednesday will set a precedent for victims' rights in military courts.

Gil Ronen,

Attorney Agassi with Michael Palmer
Attorney Agassi with Michael Palmer
The Real Jerusalem Streets / Sharon Altshul

Michael Palmer, whose son Asher and infant grandson Yonatan were murdered by terrorists in a drive-by rock attack in September, hopes the upcoming Wednesday session in the ongoing trial will set a precedent for victims' rights in Israel's military courts.

The court will be hearing the military prosecution's appeal against the light sentence meted out to Shehade Shaatat, who stole Asher Palmer's handgun immediately after the attack and subsequent car crash.

The judge, Major Eti Adar, sentenced Shaatat to 10 months in jail and 18 months of suspended jail time, and an NIS 1,000 fine.

In the sentence handed down March 10, the judge noted that the deed had not been premeditated and that while Shaatat did intend to sell the gun, he did not do so. In addition, she noted, he has no criminal record and is a father of eight, and has expressed remorse for his deed.

Michael Palmer called the sentence "an insult to justice for victims of terror in the State of Israel."

In an affidavit filed before the court by Palmer's attorney, former military judge Adrian Agassi, the bereaved father and grandfather said the light punishment is "a stain on the conscience of a cultured and normative society."

"The defendant stopped his car and walked 40 meters to the site of the wreckage of my son's car," wrote Palmer. "One could expect a witness to such an awful event to offer help or at least feel fear, as he looked at the bodies of two people inside a wrecked car. It turns out the defendant did not call for help or try to give help himself, as he came near the bodies of my son and grandson and after he saw how they died."

"The defendant's actions show that he lacks all conscience and society must punish him to the full extent of the law."

Palmer explained in the heart-rending affidavit that among the reasons for stiffening the sentence is the pain that the defendant has caused to those who lived Asher and Yonatan. The defendant's deeds "will continue to cause pain and sorrow to all of us until our last day upon this earth," he added.

"IN the last moment of his life, the victim of the offense, Asher, met 'people' who were full of hate. Even his mangled body was not honored by the defendant… The fact that my son's body, in the first moments after his death, was defiled by Shatat continues to haunt me and the family."

Spectators at trial hold photos of Asher and Yonatan. The Real Jerusalem Streets / Sharon Altshul