Controversy Over Israeli Who Killed Alleged Rapist

Dozens gathered to support 25 year-old who killed alleged rapist in Netanya in 2010, saying it was 'self-defense.'

Tova Dvorin,

Yonatan Heilo (center)
Yonatan Heilo (center)
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Protests erupted outside the Supreme Court on Monday, with dozens gathering to demonstrate against what they say is an unjust ruling after a man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for killing his rapist. 

Yonatan Heilo, 25, was convicted of killing Yaron Eilin in May 2010, after choking him and bludgeoning him with rocks and bricks outside a Netanya shopping center.

Heilo says that Eilin raped him twice and extorted money from him, threatening Heilo with beatings. He turned himself into police one day after killing Eilin. 

Supporters say that Heilo's ethnicity as the son of Ethiopian immigrants should be seen as a significant factor in the case, due to social stigmas over the sexual assault. 

Similar views were taken by Heilo's legal team, who argued that he acted in self-defense in the appeal.

"He was ashamed to talk about what had happened, he went through a process, it was hard for him to tell the story of extortion and sexual abuse," Attorney Alon Eisenberg, who represented Heilo, told the judges on Monday. "He would see Yaron (victim) and shake in his pants, he acted in self-defense." 

"How can you talk about self-defense after the accused battered him with blow after blow on the head," one judge responded. "What element of self-defense is there in hitting someone over the head with a brick?" 

Justice Hanan Meltzer added, wondering, "so far we have not seen all over the world such a case recognized as self-defense."

"How can we explain that [Heilo] crushed his skull as part of self-defense in this situation, as what was or would be an aspect of self-defense, unless you can bring legal precedent from anywhere, anywhere in the world?" he added. 

The judges' doubts were not shared by the dozens of family members, friends, public officials, lawyers, and social organizations who sent representatives to support Heilo in his appeal of the sentencing and conviction. 

Supporters bore placards calling for Heilo's release and for the legal system not to "blame the victim" in the case.

The Supreme Court has not yet released a verdict in the case.