City of David assault trial begins

Sunday, November 17, 2019, 17:06 On Sunday, November 17, the trial of Hassam Siam and Nur Siam, who are charged with attacking the Daniel family in the City of David neighborhood in September 2017, began at the Jerusalem Magistrates Court. The case was closed several months after it was opened and re-opened following an appeal filed by Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher on behalf of the family in June 2018. The Daniel family also requested the assistance of the State Comptroller of Israel, who tracked the police conduct in the case. Bleicher: “We call on the police to regard every assault of a Jew in these areas as a serious crime and to act with all legal means at their disposal to eradicate the phenomenon.”
On September 2, 2017, the family parked their car on a street in the City of David neighborhood of Jerusalem, and went to pray selichot prayers at the Western Wall. They returned two hours later and noticed that a local resident was tampering with one of the car doors. When they approached him and asked him what he was doing, he cursed them and shouted at them that they were blocking his grocery store.
After an argument which lasted for only a few seconds, the family got into their car and were about to leave. Then the nephew of the grocery store owner appeared and poured boiling coffee through an open window of the car onto one of the passengers, causing him burns. The family got out of the car and as they were calling the police, the grocery store owner and his nephew assaulted them, punching and hitting. Even after local security guards arrived and attempted to separate the assailants from the family, who remained passive, they continued to fight.
Policemen who arrived on the scene detained the assailants. The family went to the Shalem Police Station to file a complaint, where they were also interrogated as suspects. They gave testimonies, which were later corroborated by a video clip from a security camera which recorded the incident. The video clip shows the family talking to the grocery store owner, getting into their car in order to leave, and then the nephew appearing and pouring something into the car. The camera also recorded the assault, the assailants’ attempt to continue fighting despite the efforts of the security guards to separate them from the family, and the fact that the family was passive and did not fight back at all. The video clips contradict the testimonies of the assailants, who claimed that the family entered the store, cursed the owner and his nephew and assaulted them.
The investigatory case was closed only several months after it had been opened. The assaulted family was informed that, “The circumstances of the matter do not warrant continuing your investigation.” To their surprise, they discovered that the case against their assailants, who belong to a minority group, had also been closed.
In light of the evidence gathered at the time, the fact the assailants connected themselves to the incident, and the fact that there was no evidence against the family, Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher filed a request to see all of the investigatory material in the case in order to file an appeal on the closing of the case. For almost five months the Shalem Police Station did not respond to Bleicher’s requests, until he turned to the State Comptroller and the Public Complaints Officer of the Israeli Police, who authorized his access to the evidence, as required by law.
Due to the repeated delays the appeal was filed only in June 2018. After two months of not receiving a reply, Bleicher sent an additional letter to the Attorney General’s office concerning the appeal, to which he received a response several months later: The case was illegally closed by the Israeli Police Internal Investigations Department and will be reopened by the Israeli Police Department of Prosecution, which has the authority to decide on the matter. Until a decision is reached by the Department of Prosecution, the filed appeal will be shelved.
Even after Bleicher received the investigatory material and filed the appeal, the State Comptroller had to make numerous requests before the case against members of the Daniel family was closed and indictments were filed against the assailants for aggravated assault which caused substantial injury.
Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher, who is representing the Daniel family: “Unfortunately we are aware of many cases, too many, of Jews assaulted in the capital city. Many times the assaults do not receive a suitable response. For the sake of the security of all of us, we are acting with all the tools at our disposal so that the law enforcement and judicial systems will carry out their duties and bring the assailants to trial. The assault of Jews cannot be accepted as something with which one can live and continue on [unconcerned].
“We call on the police to regard every assault of a Jew in these areas as a serious crime and to act with all legal means at their disposal to eradicate the phenomenon. We, the staff of Honenu, will continue to assist crime victims with both criminal legal proceedings and the civil suits that will be filed afterwards.”
Avner Daniel stated: “We regret that the Shalem Police chose to charge the victims according to the Matzliah Method [slang: taking advantage of a victim’s lack of knowledge of a situation], and only after the intervention of the State Commission and Honenu did they do what should have been obvious and charged the assailants.”

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