“Insignificant” case closed without indictment

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Tuesday, January 31, 2023, 7:48 The office of the State Attorney closed the case of an attack by an Arab youth on a hareidi yeshiva student as he walked through the Old City of Jerusalem in June 2021. The victim filed a complaint over the attack with the police, but the office of the State Attorney closed the case approximately one year ago. Honenu Attorney Ophir Steiner, who is representing the victim, appealed the decision to the office of the State Attorney, who rejected the appeal, even though the Arab had confessed to the attack.

Steiner described the attack in the appeal: “On 21.6.2021, my client was walking in the area of Sha’ar Shechem. At some point, he came across an Arab, a minor [the attacker], who approached him from the opposite direction. As the attacker walked, he spun an elastic string in the air. As he passed the complainant, he hit him with the string. Afterward, the attacker continued to follow the complainant. As the complainant was approaching the forked path near Sha’ar Shechem, the attacker punched him in his upper back. The complainant had not provoked the attacker in any way. The attacker was motivated purely by racism. During his police interrogation, the attacker also admitted to punching the Jew.

“We are dealing with someone who decided to terrorize the complainant only because he was Jewish. The video clip clearly shows that [the attacker] extended his hand in a whipping motion, as he stood mere centimeters away from the complainant, whom he had noticed shortly beforehand. Afterward, he argued with the complainant and followed him while using threatening body language. In the end, he ambushed him, asked him, ‘What happened?’ and when he heard the answer, ‘Nothing happened,’ he punched him. Only then did the attacker allow the complainant to walk away. Therefore, the incident must be interpreted as one prolonged incident. Even if, on the face of it, each segment of the incident is not sufficient grounds to put the attacker on trial, the entirety of the incident is a serious incident during which a Jew experienced developing and prolonged harassment from an Arab who wanted to verify that the attacked Jew would not dare to speak out.”

The office of the State Attorney wrote in their rejection of the appeal, “In consideration of the insignificant nature of the incident, and the fact that the defendant was a minor at the time of the incident, and because over a year has passed and authorization to put him on trial is required, and it is doubtful that it would be given, we did not find that there is a foundation to continue the criminal proceedings.”

Honenu Attorney Ophir Steiner reacted to the decision by the office of the State Attorney: “These attacks, which do not involve a high level of violence, have become the lot of many Jewish residents of mixed Jewish-Arab cities, primarily in areas of heightened conflict in Jerusalem. Citizens are humiliated in broad daylight, only because they are Jewish, and the law enforcement authorities treat the matter lightly. This causes great damage to deterrence. We hope that the authorities will wake up before the incidents worsen and escalate to the point where it is no longer possible to safely walk in the street.”

After a similar incident in December 2022, in which a group of Arabs pulled the payot of a yeshiva student, Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher stated, “This was an intolerable, humiliating, antisemitic attack by a large group of Arabs who acted together. The incident has been added to the list of serious incidents in the area. The ‘street terror’ designed to humiliate and drive Jews out of public areas must be forcibly stopped. The methods of the terrorists imitate the behavior of the most bitter enemies of the Jews throughout generations and thus declare their intentions.”

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