Facebook
Facebook iStock

The Central District Court has accepted an appeal lodged by the State Prosecution and imposed a harsher sentence on 37-year-old Zohar Zuaretz of Petah Tikva, who was previously convicted of incitement to racism and violence, deliberate damage for racist motivations, and offending religious sensibilities. He will now serve a nine-month prison sentence and pay a 2,000-shekel fine.

Zuaretz was found guilty of publishing racist posts and writing articles encouraging violence, during the four years between 2013 and 2017. He was also convicted of spraying graffiti with racist content on a public bus. He was originally sentenced to community service which, on appeal, was changed to a prison sentence.

The amended charge sheet details how, during a time of inflamed tensions, Zuaretz published a series of racist posts on his Facebook page, including incitement to violence against Arabs and security forces. He also wrote in praise and support of committing violent acts, even though he had previously been investigated and imprisoned for these very offenses.

One such post read: “Dear Jews! The time has come to wage holy war; go out on the streets and slaughter all the Arabs you can find!” Another read: “Wow, I had such an amazing dream – I went into a hospital nursery and walked down the aisles, passing each crib, and then I took a slaughter knife out of my coat and each time I passed an Arab baby, I cut off its head, and each time I passed a Jewish baby, I put a Tikkun Haklali next to it. That was the best dream I ever had.”

With tensions rising and Arab riots on the Temple Mount in 2015 as well as increased confrontation in Judea and Samaria, Zuaretz wrote, “There can be no co-existence with cancer and Arabs are like cancer spreading among us.” He also wrote another post that incorporated a swastika into the symbol of Israel Police, writing, “This is the symbol that every Nazi soldier/police officer should wear! A police officer is a terrorist! This is a state of goyim. All those who celebrate Independence Day should die…”

He later added, “I pray that someone should be brave enough to draw a weapon and exterminate these evil police and soldiers. For each one killed I will establish a day of rejoicing!”

Zuaretz also spray-painted “Price Tag” on a public bus, along with “Muhammad is a pig,” “No entry for Arabs,” and “Death to Arabs.”

Zuaretz was initially sentenced to between 9 and 26 months in prison which was then altered to community service, a 2,000-shekel fine, and a conditional prison sentence.

Upon appeal, the Court ruled that the sentence was too lenient given the gravity of the crimes committed, and also given the wide distribution of the posts and the fact that Zuaretz showed no concern for being in breach of the law. The Court also noted that it wished to give a more severe sentence in order to serve as a deterrent.

“Even though freedom of expression is a fundamental right in a democratic state,” the Court declared, “this freedom is limited in the face of blatant and collective calls for acts of violence or racism and their encouragement.”