Supreme Court eases punishments for rock-throwers

"A proper balance must be maintained when dealing with the punishment of a minor."

Ido ben Porat ,

Arab rock-throwers in Jerusalem (Illustration)
Arab rock-throwers in Jerusalem (Illustration)
Hadas Parush/Flash 90

The Supreme Court eased the punishments today (Monday) of seven Arab youths indicted for three different incidents of rock-throwing at vehicles. In one of the incidents, a Jewish victim was injured by the rocks, and had to undergo medical treatment.

The decision of the judges was upheld, despite the law passed about a year ago, under the initiative of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), which sought to intensify the punishment for rock-throwing, decreeing that a rock-thrower could be punished with up to ten years in prison without the need to prove that the thrower had intended to injure others.

Initially, the punishments for the youths ranged from one to three years; after they appealed, their sentences were lowered to a range of two to nine months, with a mandatory compensation of 8,500 shekels ($2,242)

According to the indictment, the rock-throwing incidents occurred about a year ago. The youths threw rocks at Jewish passersby on Route 20, which connects between Pisgat Zeev and Route 443 in Jerusalem. In another incident, they injured a haredi man who had stopped on the side of the road to fix his car.

The Arabs appealed the sentence against them in the district court. Judge Uri Shoham accepted their appeal, ruling that the punishments were severe for minors, for most of whom this was their first criminal offense.

"We view the actions of the appellants with the utmost severity, especially since we're not talking about events which developed spontaneously, but which involved on-site planning, in the framework of which the appellants formed a plan for hurting Jews - because they were Jews," Judge Shoham wrote.

"Behavior of this kind, motivated by ideological concerns, meant to disrupt daily life in the state - needs a tough and deterring response in the form of tangible punishments. However, one cannot escape the fact that all the appellants were minors, aged 13.5 to 17, at the time the crimes were committed," Shoham noted.

"This court has stood, more than once, by the fact that, even in cases involving crimes committed for nationalistic reasons, a proper balance must be maintained when dealing with the punishment of a minor," the Judge explained with regard to the easing of the punishments.

Judges Neal Hendel and Tzvi Zilbertal also participated in the decision.