Aryeh Schiff
Aryeh Schiff No credit

An Israeli man convicted in the shooting death of a Bedouin car thief was spared a jail sentence by a court in southern Israel Tuesday.

Aryeh Schiff, a 71-year-old resident of the southern town of Arad, was sentenced to nine months of community service Tuesday for the killing of Muhammad al-Atrash, who broke into Schiff’s car during a botched car theft attempt in November 2020.

The decision was handed down Tuesday morning at the Be’er Sheva District Court.

As he left the courtroom Tuesday, Schiff expressed satisfaction with the sentence.

“I’m glad that this is over and I am very, very much saddened by the tragedy – about everything that happened. It wasn’t planned, and I regret it, and I’m happy that it is all over.”

The Im Tirtzu organization, which had demonstrated in support of Schiff’s release, lauded the decision Tuesday.

“After many months of public struggles, we are happy that the public pressure paid off. From the beginning there was no reason to convict Aryeh; at least the judge understood there is a need to send the clear message that citizens have the right of self-defense against criminals.”

“It will take a long time to bring back security to the Negev, but at least Aryeh Schiff gets his life back today.”

In July, the Be’er Sheva District Court found Schiff guilty of reckless homicide for al-Atrash’s death. The decision was reached following a plea bargain.

During his trial, Schiff had claimed self-defense, but the prosecution maintained that there had been no need to open fire on the thieves in his car to prevent them from burglarizing his home.