Can acts of terror be “youthful mischief”?

Thursday, April 7, 2022, 11:29 The Jerusalem District Court handed down a lenient penalty of two and half years’ imprisonment to Salah Bakhirat, a terrorist who seriously injured a Jewish youth with a large rock after attempting to run him over. The terrorist was convicted of aggravated assault as an act of terror and additional terror crimes. Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher, who is representing the victim, wrote a letter to the office of the State Attorney, asking them to file an appeal on the leniency of the penalty.

In his letter, Bleicher described the attack, which occurred approximately one year ago: The terrorist, who was with additional attackers, attempted to run over the Jewish youth, who was with friends at the time. After the attempt, as the terrorist was driving, he threw a large rock at the youth “which caused him a compound fracture in his hand, a serious injury with long-term medical and emotional ramifications. One of the terrorists was apprehended and indicted for injuring the Jewish youth. He was also indicted for a similar act in which the rock narrowly missed the complainants, sparing them from injury.”

The request for an appeal describes how the judge treated two acts of terror as one, thereby significantly reducing the penalty: “The sentence [handed down by the Jerusalem District Court] runs contrary to common sense. The terrorist carried out multiple acts of terror, on different people, in different places, the first time in a relatively isolated area, and the second time in an urban center. These are definitely completely separate attacks.

“The connection between the attacks is the terroristic motivation. The similar modus operandi should demonstrate the great danger that the terrorist poses, and his great fearlessness. He was not deterred from carrying out other attacks after he caused serious injury in the first attack. How can the terroristic motivation and the dangerous modus operandi give the honorable judge a foundation stone for leniency with regard to penalizing the despicable terrorist?” wondered Bleicher.

Additionally, Bleicher related to the judge’s consideration of the terrorist’s personal situation: “The honorable judge considered the personal circumstances of the terrorist and ‘his young age’ (20 years), at a time when the State of Israel is facing murderous terror attacks from within and from without. How can the court contribute to deterring terror and combating attempts to injure and to murder loyal Israeli citizens if they are extremely lenient when penalizing a terrorist because of his questionable claims of regret, when the terrorist did not accept responsibility for his actions and did not turn in his terrorist friends? How is it possible to discuss the formative process of identity of a 20-year-old terrorist that includes terror attacks on Jews and relate to it as ‘youthful mischief’?

“Aggravated assault as an act of terror is one of the most serious crimes in the law books. Such a lenient penalty severely damages the possibility of significant penalization of terrorists, because there is no doubt that the judge’s ruling will constitute a flagship ruling for all murderous terrorists in their demands for leniency. Simultaneously, the victim of the crime feels that he has been injured twice, first when he was injured by the terrorist and his friends in the attack, and then when the court chose to favor the terrorist’s quality of life over the right to life of the victim and of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel.”

In conclusion, Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher requested that the office of the State Attorney “file an appeal without delay, which will be a clear statement on the appropriate penalization of contemptible terrorists.”

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