Jewish victim who acted in self-defense exonerated from all charges

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

Wednesday, January 18, 2023, 15:22 Several days ago, the Jerusalem District Court exonerated a Jew who clashed with Arabs in the Old City of Jerusalem in August 2018. The defendant, who was in charge of a shop run by the Ateret Cohanim non-profit organization on Shalshelet Street, asked the Arab owners of the shops next to his to move their things that were hanging on the door and in front of the opening to the shop. He wanted to set up a kiddush at the site for worshipers returning from prayers at the Western Wall. Despite his requests, the local shopkeepers ignored him, and so he moved the backgammon board that blocked the passage and the clothes from the door.

Then, several local Arab shop owners gathered around him, threatened him, attempted to injure him, and finally did physically injure him. A soldier in an elite IDF combat unit passing by on his way to prayers at the Western Wall noticed the gathering and attempted to assist the attacked Jew by standing between the sides. A clash broke out, and in the end, the defendant used his pepper spray to drive away the attackers in an act of self-defense.

Although the entire incident was recorded by Old City security cameras, the police put the Jewish victim on trial for assault causing actual bodily harm, making threats, and for public disorderly conduct. The police accepted the testimonies of the Arab shopkeepers who claimed that the Jew had started the clash by attacking them and that the recordings from the video camera did not precisely show who started the physical violence.

After Honenu Attorney Moshe Poleski resolutely handled the evidentiary proceedings, Jerusalem Magistrates Court Judge Mohamad Haj Yahya acquitted the defendant of assault and making threats, but convicted him of public disorderly conduct, while acknowledging that he had acted in self-defense, as the defendant and the combat soldier testified. Poleski appealed the conviction to the Jerusalem District Court. Several days ago, the Jerusalem District Court exonerated the defendant from all charges, with the agreement of the office of the State Attorney.

Honenu Attorney Moshe Poleski, who represented the defendant, stated, “After handling the evidentiary proceedings, the court accepted the claim by my client that he acted in self-defense after he was attacked and acquitted him of assault and making threats. However, despite that, the court convicted him of public disorderly conduct. We welcome the bold decision by the Jerusalem Magistrates Court, which accepted most of our claims. … Nevertheless, we could not accept the fact that our client, who only wanted to move the things that had been placed in front of the door and open the shop in which he worked, would be tarnished by a criminal record, only because he stood up for his rights. We welcome the decision by the Jerusalem District Court who stated at the opening of the hearing that they were not comfortable with the conviction of the defendant, despite some criticism of his conduct.

Poleski continued, “Most of our criticism is directed not at the court, but rather at the Israel Police Claims Department. The video clip documenting the incident clearly shows at least four local Arabs gathering around my client, shouting at him, provoking him, approaching him in a threatening manner, and then physically attacking him. For some unknown reason and without any explanation, the Israel Police decided to put the Jew involved on trial, despite the full testimony that he had given and despite the testimony of an objective eyewitness, an IDF combat soldier, that corroborated my client’s. The police ignored the testimony. Not one of the Arabs was put on trial for their part in the incident. It is very saddening that one must wage a determined four-year legal battle for justice to come to light.”

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