Likud MK Katz: Shooting a Thief = Self-Defense

MK Yisrael Katz calls upon AG Mazuz not to indict a Negev farmer for shooting and killing a Bedouin burglar, and plans to propose legislation to protect the increasingly insecure local residents.

Hillel Fendel , | updated: 11:50 AM

The issue at hand occurred on the Sabbath. Shai Dromi, whose custody was extended today until Thursday, is the owner of a small farm in the Negev outside Meitar, northeast of Be'er Sheva and just south of the southern border of Judea and the Hevron area. The area has long been plagued by Bedouin thieves, and residents complain that the police are powerless to stop them.

Friday night, Shai slept in the barn, fearing a robbery. Having had a horse and tractor stolen and several dogs killed just in the past few months, he felt helpless in the face of the increasing threats. He awoke around 3 AM when he saw that his dog had been poisoned and was dying. He then noticed four burglars on his property. Fearing for his life, he said, he took an old gun of his father's, shot at their legs, and wounded two of the intruders. One of them bled to death, even though Shai said he tried to administer first-aid.

Dromi was arrested shortly afterwards, charged with murder, misuse of a weapon and shooting in a built-up area.

The dead man, Haled Al-Atrash, 31, was released from prison a month ago after completing a 4-year sentence for stealing agricultural property.

MK Katz called upon Mazuz not to indict Dromi. "Citizens in the area feel threatened and insecure in their own homes," Katz said, "while the criminals openly mock the law. This must be changed." A former Agriculture Minister, Katz lives in Moshav Kfar Achim, near Kiryat Malachi and Ashkelon.

He said he plans to introduce legislation according to which all opposition by a person to one who breaks into his home or property will be considered self-defense.

Biblical Law
Such a statute would be partially in line with Torah law. Exodus 22,1-2 stipulates: "If a thief be found breaking in, and be smitten that he die, the killer shall not be liable." Jewish Law gives less of a carte-blanche than Katz's proposal in that it allows shooting only if it can be assumed that the burglar might resort to fatal violence - whereas Katz would deem the very act of breaking-in liable for a violent response.

On the other hand, the Torah does not demand absolute proof of the burglar's intention; only if it is as "clear as the sun" (verse 2) that the burglar means no physical harm is one forbidden to shoot him.

Katz said his proposed law echoes the situation in many states in the United States. A statute in the State of Florida (776.012) states that a person "is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another, or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony." Other states have copied this law as well.

Rifman's Approach
Shmulik Rifman, head of the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council, told Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine, "What is happening in the Negev, all the way up to Be'er Tovia [near Kiryat Malachi], is that agriclutual thefts of sheep, equipment and the like, have reached the point where there is helplessness and frustration. These are Bedouin gangs, cooperating with terrorist gangs from the Southern Hevron Hills areas such as Yata, Hevron , and the like, and they stop at nothing... I am not surprised at what happened; I have talked to Minister of Public Security Avi Dichter more than once and warned him that something must be done before something happens - and now something happened. I don't want to go into details, but I was not satisfied with my last meeting with Dichter..."

Rifman said, "A Jew wants to raise sheep in the Land of Israel, and is stopped and blocked by the Bedouins. His custody was extended for four days, and who knows where it will end? We have to help him - not only personally on the legal front, but also all the farmers in the area must be encouraged and strengthened."