Appeal rejected despite assailant’s admission of racist motive

Please click here for a list of posts relating to cases in which Honenu provided legal counsel to victims of antisemitic attacks in Jerusalem.

Three cases very similar to this case:

Attack in Old City Jerusalem

Honenu appealed, the assailant was indicted

Demand to reopen Jerusalem Day assault case

Thursday, February 9, 2023, 14:32 Honenu Attorney Ophir Steiner reacted to the rejection of the appeal: “This is an unfortunate decision. Again we encounter the closing of a case of racially-nationalistically motivated assault, a case that includes a detailed admission and other strong evidence, because a district attorney does not see importance in handling it and pursuing justice. The appeal was rejected despite the opinion of the legislature, according to which a racist-nationalistic motive constitutes serious grounds that justify doubling a penalty. Cases such as this are becoming more common, and damage like this to deterrence only strengthens this concerning trend. The State Attorney’s Office has forgotten that public security is the primary public interest, before the cost of criminal proceedings.”

In April 2021, an Arab assaulted a Jew walking in the Old City of Jerusalem by forcefully slamming him in the shoulder. The victim filed a complaint with the police, and the assailant was detained. During the police interrogation, the assailant explicitly declared that he hates Jews and therefore wanted to physically injure the Jewish victim, even though there had been no interaction between them before the assault. Despite this admission, the Jerusalem District Attorney’s office closed the case. Honenu Attorney Ophir Steiner, who is representing the victim, appealed the decision to the Appeals Department of Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office, which rejected the appeal.

Steiner described the assault in the appeal: “On 20.4.2021, the complainant was walking on HaGai Street in the Old City of Jerusalem, towards the Western Wall, preoccupied by his own concerns and speaking on his cell phone. When he passed the turn onto Via Dolorosa, a group of approximately six Arab youths, who had left the Temple Mount, approached him from the opposite direction. One of the Arab youths separated from the rest of the group and assaulted the complainant with a forceful shoulder slam.

“After the police interrogators presented a video clip documenting the incident to the assailant, he took responsibility for the assault and admitted that he had wanted to violently assault the complainant only because he was a Jew. … The testimony of the complainant corroborates the video clip and the admission by the assailant, and is supported by the police action report written by the policeman to whom the complainant turned for help at the scene immediately after the assault. Therefore, the evidence is sufficient to prove that the assault on the complainant by the assailant was racially motivated, in accordance with the criterion required by criminal law.”

Steiner stated that closing the case is liable to set a precedent that will endanger the security of additional citizens: “One must not be lenient concerning an incident during which a Jew innocently walking down the street is violently assaulted only because he is a Jew. The assailant must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, ‘so that others will see and fear’. This is paramount to public interest, to protect public security and prevent violent incidents stemming from racist-nationalistic motives. Closing such a serious case is contrary to the opinion of the legislature regarding the severity of the acts, and is liable to damage the security of Israeli citizens.”

In conclusion, Steiner demanded that the case be reopened and that the assailant be penalized to the full extent of the law. Please click here for more details of the assailant’s interrogation and the appeal.

In their reply to the appeal, the Jerusalem District Attorney’s office answered that they had decided to reject the appeal because the complainant was only lightly assaulted and the assault does not justify the resources required for criminal proceedings: “This was an ugly act. However, after examining the circumstances of the incident, a light and brief shoulder bump that caused no damage whatsoever, and the complainee’s lack of a criminal record, and procedural considerations that pertain to the handling of complete criminal proceedings, their cost and their consequences, we did not find it appropriate to intervene with regard to the decision to close the case and the appeal was rejected.”

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