Demand to reopen Sha’ar Shechem assault case

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

Tuesday, January 25, 2022, 12:18 Despite video clips from security cameras, and an admission under interrogation from the assailant, the Attorney General’s office closed an assault case against an Arab who attacked a hareidi yeshiva student near Sha’ar Shechem (Damascus Gate) during the summer of 2021.

Video clip of the incident; Video credit: Security camera

Honenu Attorney Ophir Steiner, who is representing the student, filed an appeal, summarized below, demanding that the case be reopened:

One must not be lenient with an incident in which a Jew walking on a street, minding his own business, was violently attacked only because he was a Jew. Moreover, the assailant acted to strike fear in the heart of the complainant. The assailant must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, “so that others will see and fear”. It is foremost in the public interest to guard public security and to prevent violent incidents stemming from nationalistic-racist motives.

The incident occurred approximately half a year ago near Sha’ar Shechem. M., a hareidi yeshiva student, was walking with a friend. The assailant, who was walking opposite them, spinning a string in the air, noticed them. He continued to spin the string until he was standing directly in front of M. Then he lowered his arm in a sharp, rapid gesture, which looked like whipping. The assailant was aware that he had made a whipping motion only several centimeters away from the victim. The video clip shows the string hitting M. and lifting the tails of his suit.

M. turned to ask the assailant a question, who in response took out his cell phone and appeared to be calling someone. M. and his friend continued on their way. The assailant stalked them while maintaining eye contact with M. At some point, the assailant passed M., waited for him, called out to him, and then punched him close to the nape of his neck. M. hurriedly left the site and reported the attack at a nearby police checkpoint. The police detained the assailant.

At his interrogation, the assailant initially tried to deny the accusations against him, and even denied that he appeared in the video clips from the security cameras. Once it became clear that he had been recorded, he changed his testimony. He claimed that he had lied “in order to get out of it,” admitted that he had pushed M., and said that he had immediately noticed that M. was Jewish because of his clothing. In contrast, M.’s testimony was brief, coherent, and matched the video clips from the security cameras.

The evidence proves that the assailant, motivated by racism, threatened and attacked M. only because he was Jewish. The prolonged nature of the attack must be emphasized. A Jew was harassed and intimidated continuously by an Arab who wanted to verify that the Jewish victim would not turn him in. Closing the case of such a serious attack is contrary to the legislation regarding such an act and liable to harm public security, therefore the investigation must be reopened.

For a post about a December 2021 stabbing attack on two hareidi Jews near Sha’ar Shechem, click here, and for a November 2021 attack on a hareidi youth, see here.

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