Honenu demands appeal of lenient sentencing

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Monday, February 6, 2023, 9:12 Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher wrote a letter – summarized below – to the office of the Jerusalem District Attorney asking them to appeal the lenient sentence handed down to Ali Ajalin, the terrorist who attempted to stab two Jews on HaNevi’im Street near Sha’ar Shechem (Damascus Gate) in Jerusalem approximately 18 months ago. In October 2022, the Jerusalem District Court convicted Ajalin of aggravated assault in an act of terror, and Jerusalem District Court Judge Miriam Lomp sentenced him to only eight years’ imprisonment in January 2023. The Jerusalem District Attorney’s office had requested a stiffer penalty.

In her sentencing, Judge Lomp took into consideration the family background of the terrorist and the fact that it was “his first blunder,” as she defined it, which drew harsh reactions. The terrorist also claimed that the remand was difficult for him. He did not express remorse for his acts, and he also changed his testimony regarding the attack.

Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher, who is representing the victims, sharply criticized the penalization: “The terrorist left his home aware that he was going to be a shahid. He was willing to die in order to murder a Jew. How can one consider that in six years he will be released? This is a prolonged failure that began when the office of the Jerusalem District Attorney did not indict the terrorist for attempted murder and continued with penalization that does not reflect the severity of the attack. We expect the office of the Jerusalem District Attorney to demand a significantly stiffer penalty.”

Approximately 18 months ago, Ali Ajalin, then a 22-year-old Anata resident, left his home with a kitchen knife with a 12 cm. blade and looked for a Jewish victim in the area of Sha’ar Shechem (Damascus Gate). He identified two Jews with a Hareidi appearance walking from Sha’ar Shechem toward Shivtei Yisrael Street. The terrorist followed them until they reached HaNevi’im Street, where he drew his knife and attempted to stab one of them in the back. The terrorist tripped and the knife fell from his hand, which enabled the victims to escape. The terrorist fled the scene and was apprehended a short time later by the police.

Summary of the letter that Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher wrote to the office of the Jerusalem District Attorney asking them to appeal the lenient sentence:

The terrorist planned the attack, equipped himself with a knife, and arrived at the site. In our opinion, in relation to the circumstances of the incident and the facts written in the indictment, the sentence is lenient and causes severe damage to deterrence and to the war on terror. The circumstances point to a planned terror attack in every way. From the start, the terrorist should have been indicted for and convicted of attempted murder. The actions of the terrorist clearly indicate an intent to murder. The terrorist himself risked being immediately killed. His desire was to slaughter his victims and kill as many as possible. The grounds for the leniency of the conviction and the sentencing were the means that he used: the blade of the knife did not have a sharp enough tip to penetrate deeply when thrust into a victim. If the terrorist had slashed the victim with the knife, the results could have been lethal. In any event, the terrorist’s intent was clearly to kill.

All of the characteristics of a terror attack were present. Therefore it is not clear why the sentencing does not reflect that and why the terrorist was penalized as if he had spontaneously carried out an act of terror with non-lethal means. The attack, as all attacks of this type do, caused great damage to the security of the public, who fear for their lives as they walk through the streets of the capital of Israel. The attack also caused great damage to the victims, one of whom was severely emotionally injured, and the injury has had extremely serious effects on his life and the life of his family.

At times, in order to determine the extent of the failure of a sentencing, one must look beyond the standard legal framework and see the situation as an average citizen would. How does an average citizen react upon hearing, to their horror, that a terrorist who carried out a stabbing attack is going to be released after only eight years? The discrepancy between the results of the sentencing and a reasonable perception necessitates careful examination as to whether or not the results are genuinely correct also from a judicial perspective. In this case, the results are far from correct. In light of the severity of the incident and the public and security aspects, I ask that his Honor immediately announce that the office of the Jerusalem District Attorney has appealed the leniency of the sentencing.

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