The Old City in Jerusalem.
The Old City in Jerusalem.Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

On Thursday, Judge Zion Sahrai of the Jerusalem Magistrates Court ordered the release of a reserve IDF soldier who was attacked together with his family members, some of whom are also soldiers, by Arabs during Shavuot in the Old City of Jerusalem. The soldier claims to have drawn his weapon for self-defense.

The judge accepted the arguments of attorney Daniel Shimshilashvili from the Honenu legal aid organization, rejected the police's request to extend the soldier's detention by five days, and released him under restrictive conditions.

The soldier, a member of an elite unit from central Israel who completed reserve service in Gaza a few weeks ago and had previously received the Chief of Staff's commendation, was walking with his family in the Old City of Jerusalem towards the Western Wall during the holiday. On the way, the soldier and his family were attacked by Arabs who tried to take a weapon from one of the family members.

The soldier fired a single bullet, injuring one of the Arabs. Initially, the police announced during the night that the soldier would be released without any conditions, but later reversed that decision, and he was brought to court. Due to the sensitivity of his military role and the circumstances, his personal details were not cleared for publication.

Attorney Daniel Shimshilashvili said: "We have just finished a discussion on the disgraceful request by the police to extend the detention of an outstanding soldier in an elite unit who prevented the theft of his friend's weapon by an attacker who is currently detained in the hospital. I welcome the court's decision which examined the evidence, completely rejected the police's unfounded request, and ordered the release of my client who will return to the embrace of his family and continue to serve the homeland with pride.''

After the incident, the family members described the attack they experienced: "On the way to the Western Wall, a dispute began between a group of Arabs and some family members. The Arabs blocked our way and began throwing things at us from all directions. Some family members, soldiers in regular and reserve service, had their personal weapons and began trying to extract us from the location."

"At a certain point, one of the attackers grabbed one of the soldier's weapons and began trying to violently wrest the weapon from him. We were with women and children, we shouted for the police, who did not arrive. After long minutes of struggle, where the weapon almost passed into the hands of the Arab attacker, the soldier fired into the attacker's hand, ending the incident. The women and children screamed, they threw vases, plates, and many things at us while surrounding us. It was self-defense for all of us. If the weapon had been taken, a disaster would have occurred. They tried to kill us; it was long minutes of terror," they added.