Terrorist (illustration)
Terrorist (illustration)Israel news photo: Flash 90

A mediation session was held Monday between the lawyer representing terrorist Salah Hamouri, who plotted the murder of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and was released from Israeli jail in the Schalit deal, and the representatives of Arutz Sheva.

Hamouri sued Arutz Sheva, claiming that the website reported that he told the Reuters news agency, immediately after his release, that “Rabbi Yosef deserves to die.” This report, he claimed, “damaged his reputation.”

The mediation process was decided upon by the court and the contents of the sessions are therefore secret.

Following the mediation session, Arutz Sheva Deputy Director Uzi Baruch said that the website intends to reject any compromise that involves monetary compensation, and invited the terrorist to go to court. “This is a terrorist with chutzpah,” Baruch said. “Instead of going underground, he dares petition the Israeli court and claim that his 'reputation' has been sullied.

"Hamouri planned to murder Rabbi Yosef, one of the greatest rabbis of our generation. There is no limit to his insolence. We will meet in court, hold a protracted debate and carry out an in-depth probe into his 'reputation.'”

Attorney Tom Neumann, who represents Arutz Sheva, said that he was not surprised by Hamouri's lawsuit. “This is an impertinent lawsuit by a terrorist who was convicted and freed, not after serving his full sentence but as part of the Schalit deal. Such a man does not enjoy a good reputation to begin with, certainly not in the Israeli public, and the claim that his 'good reputation' was damaged in the eyes of Arutz Sheva readers, assumes the absurd assumption that these readers previously thought he was a good and moral man. We will gladly have the court examine the supposed harm to his reputation.”

Attorney Neumann noted that Hamouri's lawsuit is reminiscent of another case, in which rapist Benny Sela sued a local newspaper over a report that he had allegedly performed an indecent act in prison. Some people's reputation precedes them in certain matters, like terrorism and rape, Neumann said, and they would do better not file libel suits regarding reports about them in these contexts.

A legal source estimated that the terrorist Hamouri and his lawyer are interested in a court process because they see it as an act of protest against Arutz Sheva. “The terrorist and his lawyer apparently think that the lawsuit enhances their reputation and makes for good public relations among the Palestinian public.”