One-year sentence for life-threatening attack

Victim wearing bloodstained tzitzit; Photo courtesy of the photographer

Wednesday, March 23, 2022, 11:35 In late March, Shomron Military Court Judge Lieutenant Colonel Vered Orenstein accepted a plea bargain between the Attorney General’s office and three terrorists who attacked N. as he was walking near his home in the Shomron. The three terrorists received a sentence of only one year’s imprisonment and an obligation to pay a pitifully low sum of compensation. In the plea bargain, the three terrorists were convicted of attacking N., who objected to the lenient sentence and testified in court.

In her ruling, Judge Lieut.-Col. Orenstein explained her reasoning for the acceptance: “After I considered all of the circumstances of the incident, heard the claims of both sides, the statements from the complainant, and the confessions by the defendants that saved the court time, and took note of their clean record, the penalty agreed upon by the sides does not deviate from the customary standard of penalty, and is even more stringent. Therefore I decided to accept the plea bargain.”

Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher, who has been assisting N. with the case, stated after the sentencing that “anyone with any intelligence understands that the terrorists brutally attacked my client only because he was a Jew, certainly after my client testified and showed the court his tzitzit that became stained with blood when the terrorists tore his shirt and injured his head. The terrorists were apprehended three months after the attack, which allowed them to present ‘suppressed testimony’ and claim that they had thought that he was a thief from their village. One year’s imprisonment does not reflect the severity of the attackers’ actions and does not fulfill the need for deterrence. Israeli citizens must not be abandoned.”

The plea bargain was filed according to a recommendation from a mediating judge after the terrorists claimed during their interrogations that they had carried out the act because they had thought that N. was a thief from their village. N. was initially not aware that this was his attackers’ claim. He arrived in court for the purpose of objecting to the plea bargain and describing to the court the horrific attack that he had experienced, so that the court would become aware that there was no likelihood that the terrorists had mistaken him for an Arab.

During the hearing, N. spoke before Judge Lieut.-Col. Orenstein and recounted his ordeal: “I never thought that my neighbors, the people who travel the same roads that I do, would do such a thing. Since the incident, my life has not been the same, my nights have not been the same….

“I was just walking in a dirt field, and then someone came, grabbed me by the arm, and dragged me to the village square. I told him that I was out walking, and that I only wanted to return home. But he and four others started to beat my arms and legs. I was lying on the ground, and they hit my arms and legs. I tried to get up and run, to try and defend myself, but I could not even get up on all fours.

“I saw in my mind’s eye the Ramallah Lynching [in which two IDF soldiers were brutally murdered in 2000]. I thought that I wasn’t going to get out of there [the village]. I thought that I would leave in a few garbage bags. [They] took a cloth, wrapped it twice around my neck, and lifted me by the throat. It wouldn’t have been more than a few dozen seconds before that was the end of me.

“But then an elderly Arab arrived and stopped the terror attack. ‘Eliyahu HaNavi’ arrived and saved me. He shouted at them to stop. He shouted in Arabic, he protected me with his own body and stopped them with his hands. He lifted me up from the ground and put an end to the incident.

“It was 12 in the afternoon, only Jews and Samaritans are around then. I think that anyone who knew Arabic would understand that I am not exactly an Arab from Shechem. They tore my backpack off of me and tore my shirt and my hat. I was wearing tzitzit under my shirt. It’s hard to think that I was a thief [from their village] with that.

“They didn’t succeed in killing me thanks to the one man who saved me. I want only for them to go home and to know what an injustice they have done, so that they will not dare to do it again. [So that they will not say] ‘We punched around some Jew, sat two-three months in prison, and paid a bit [in compensation]. Let’s do it again.'”

Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher also spoke at the hearing. Bleicher explained that the circumstances of the attack indicate that it was aggravated assault and pointed out that from the description of the attack, it is possible to deduce the motive of the assailants: “Everyone who sees the complainant can vouch that whoever attacked him could say that he was a Jew.”

The attack occurred approximately one year ago, while N. was walking near the Jewish community in the Shomron in which he lives. He was attacked by construction workers working in the adjacent village and saved only by an elderly Arab who stopped the terrorists from carrying out their plan. N. was injured in the face and evacuated for medical treatment to Meir Hospital in K’far Saba.

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