Ben Gvir, police in a previous standoff
Ben Gvir, police in a previous standoffIsrael news photo: Flash 90

A Jerusalem judge has freed a Jewish man who was present when two other Jews fired guns into the air to scare off armed Arab men who had attacked a group of Jewish youth.

The man, a resident of Nahliel, was arrested Thursday following an attack on Jewish hikers in the Binyamin region. The man was one of three who arrived at the scene of the attack in order to help the five hikers, who had been attacked by an Arab mob wielding iron bars and other makeshift weapons.

Two of the three fired guns in the air to keep the attackers at bay.

On Thursday, Judge Abbas A’asi ordered the man kept in jail for four more days despite the man’s claim that he had simply been trying to rescue the youth who were attacked. Judge A’asi refused to watch video footage of the attack.

He suggested that the man who was arrested – who did not fire in the air – remain in custody until the two who did fire in the air had turned themselves in to police.

However, on Friday Ben-Gvir made a successful appeal to the Jerusalem District Court. Judge Yoram Noam watched a video clip showing the attack, and agreed that had he been in the defendant’s place, he would have felt that his life was at risk.

The evidence shows that the man arrived at the scene after hearing that local Jewish youth had been attacked by Arabs, “and that the youth’s lives were at risk,” Noam said. The man and two others arrived, at which point “local residents approached them, some holding iron bars, and the two fired with their weapons, apparently in the air.”

“Police do not dispute that the appellant was not holding a weapon, and did not fire in the air,” he added.

He disagreed with Judge A’asi’s argument that there was reason to suspect the man of having conspired to commit a crime, and said the only suspicion indicated by the evidence was reckless driving as the man was leaving the scene.

Police already know who the two men suspected of shooting in the air are, and so have no reason to hold the other man in custody in their absence, Judge Noam concluded. He ordered the man released to house arrest.

Ben-Gvir responded to the verdict, “I’m happy that the Binyamin district police got a message from the District Court that they cannot turn things around and say that the people who come to rescue youth from a pogrom and lynch are the ones who should be arrested.”

“It’s not clear why police did not arrest the ones who threw stones and came with iron bars,” he added. “It’s regrettable that police in Judea and Samaria, and in the Binyamin station in particular, remain cut off from reality, and continue to try to make Jews the guilty ones, even when the facts clearly indicate that the Arabs were those who trying to commit murder.”