Appellate court overturned ruling in Gelman murder case

Thursday, July 14, 2022, 15:20 A panel of judges headed by the President of the Military Court of Appeals, Judge Colonel Netanel Benisho, accepted an appeal by the Military Advocate General and convicted Mamdouh Yusaf Amro of murdering Major (Res.) Eliav Gelman, Hy”d. The Military Court of Appeals returned the case to the Military Court of Yehuda for the sentencing of the terrorist.

In February 2016, Amro carried out a stabbing attack at the Etzion Bloc Junction during which Major (Res.) Gelman was injured by “friendly fire” and tragically died of his wounds. In October 2018, the Military Court in Yehuda ruled that Amro is responsible for the death of Gelman because the shot that killed him was caused by his actions. However, in a precedent and contrary to the opinion of the judge heading the panel, the court ruled that it was not possible to prove that Amro intended to cause Gelman’s death in the attack. The court exonerated Amro from the crime of murder and convicted him of the lesser charge of manslaughter. The Military Advocate General appealed the controversial ruling and demanded a murder conviction, which was handed down today.

Eliav’s family welcomed the decision: “Today we saw again how significant the soldiers in the Military Advocate General are in the war on terror. And how significant they are in the battle to penalize terrorists to the full extent of the law. This is for the protection of Israeli citizens and as a deterrence against future attacks. This important process in the war on terror will not bring back our son and brother, but it is clear to us, with all the difficulties in handling the legal issues, that this ruling will help save the lives of many citizens.

“We are of the opinion that the death penalty for terrorists, in the field or in the courtroom, is the main weapon in the war on terror. And we believe that it will come with the help of representatives in the next government. A display of strength against terror and uncompromising penalization are inseparable parts of the war against every terrorist whose only wish and intent are to murder and to remove the People of Israel from their land. We, the bereaved family, will continue to fight for our hold on this land and our connection to the People of Israel.”

For their reaction to the initial exoneration, please click here.

Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher, who is representing the family as victims of terror: “The court did well to overturn the ruling that cast doubt on the murderous intent of the terrorist. We expect a change in the legal system. We expect judges who are connected to the reality and the shared experience of Jews in their own country. We thank the Military Advocate General for the appeal and for their part in the fight against terror.”

For a statement by Honenu Attorney Bleicher prior to the hearing, please click here.

Knesset Member Orit Struk, who assisted the Gelman family and was present at court hearings with them: “Today’s legal victory is diminished by the heavy feeling of national disgrace. The fact that our judicial system requires six and a half years to determine that a horrific attack such as this is indeed murder should rob sleep from everyone who wants Israel to defeat terror. But at least now, at this point of categorizing the crime, we succeeded.

“I feel obligated to thank, in the name of the entire public, the wonderful Gelman family who knew to fight for justice despite the immense difficulty it entailed, and Honenu, who very professionally led the legal efforts. As someone who recently exposed the Ketabi Report on prison conditions for terrorists, it is clear to me that it is hard to say that the terrorist will genuinely be penalized. G-d willing we will also take care of that after the elections.”

On February 24, 2016, Mamdouh Yusaf Amro age 26, a resident of Dura in the Har Hevron region arrived at the scene of the attack and walked towards the hitch-hiking stop at the Etzion Bloc Junction. After arousing the suspicions of the soldiers at the junction, he started to run and waved a knife. Gelman and several civilians were waiting at the hitch-hiking stop. Gelman drew his pistol and charged the terrorist. Unfortunately, Gelman was injured by “friendly fire” and tragically died of his wounds. The court ruled that the terrorist is culpable for Gelman’s death because the shot was fired as a result of his actions.

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