J’lem Day mob attack terrorists sentenced

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

Thursday, January 26, 2023, 16:45 On Wednesday, January 25, the Jerusalem District Court handed down sentences of 58 months’ imprisonment to Ibrahim Salima and Muhammad Qabaja, two of the terrorists who brutally attacked Jews near Lions’ Gate on Jerusalem Day during Operation Guardian of the Walls in May 2021. Payment of 70,000 NIS in compensation to the victims was also imposed on the terrorists. The terrorists were convicted of aggravated assault in an act of terror and malicious vehicular vandalism.

The attack; Video credit: Israel Police

Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher, who represented the victims, stated after the sentencing, “As is described in the sentencing, we are dealing with serious acts of terror. Great damage was done to the victims and to the security of all Israeli citizens. We are of the opinion that the penalization is not stiff enough and does not adequately reflect the severity and cruelty of the terrorists’ acts. We will demand that the office of the State Attorney appeal the sentencing and demand a stiffer penalty. Thus also deterrence against terrorists will be increased.”

The judge described the brutal attack in his sentencing: “On the morning of Jerusalem Day 2021, three Jews drove toward the Western Wall in Jerusalem to pray. The three wore kippot and had a religious Jewish appearance. As the car neared Rockefeller Junction in the Old City, the car was trapped in a traffic jam. A disturbance formed around the car in the framework of which rioters threw rocks at the car, shattered the windows, kicked the car, opened the car doors, and kicked the passengers. The driver attempted to escape by driving forward and backward, under ceaseless rock-throwing. One of the rioters opened the driver’s door. He lost control of the car, hit two people at the scene, drove over a cement wall on the curb, and was stuck there. This was all under a ceaseless attack that continued with intensity even when the car was stuck on the wall with the passengers inside.

“As the car was stuck on the cement wall, Qabaja got out of his car, which was in front of the attacked car, and from a distance of two meters threw a rock that he had picked up off the ground at the driver who was sitting in the car with his door open. Immediately afterward, Qabaja picked up another rock and threw it at the driver from a meter away. Simultaneously, Salima ran up with a black helmet on his head, approached [the victims’] car, and sprayed pepper spray into the car through the right front window from a distance of several centimeters. The defendants carried out their acts as the rioters around them continued the attack as described above. The two defendants fled after a policeman arrived on the scene and shot into the air.”

Among the reasons for the sentence: “… The acts of the defendants were a serious attack on the protected values of preservation of the value of life, bodily integrity, public peace and security, rule of law, public order, and a personal sense of security. The phenomenon of rock-throwing has increased recently and turned into a genuine ‘national plague’ that significantly endangers public peace and human lives. [This] necessitates handing down penalties that deter the perpetrators. … In the case at hand, the magnitude of the attack on protected values reached its height. This was a prolonged, serious, and combined attack by many rioters on three victims who were trapped in their car at the site of the incident and were not able to escape. The potential for damage in an attack that is carried out under these circumstances by many rioters together is great and even lethal. Accordingly, the fact that the incident did not stop by the initiative of the defendants and the other rioters, but rather thanks to the arrival of a policeman who shot into the air, which resulted in the attack stopping, must be taken into consideration. The severity of the acts in the case at hand increases significantly in light of the joint perpetration by the rioting mob. These crimes necessitate appropriate, stiff, and heavy penalties. Moreover, the severity of the acts and the violation of protected values increase in light of the ideological motivation at their basis. The attack was directed at people only because of their religious and national identity.”

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