The death of an Israeli motorist in Yerushalayim, apparently caused by a rock-throwing attack, has again brought the issue of tougher penalties for rock-throwers to the fore, with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowing to rein in the phenomenon.
Netanyahu called an emergency security meeting for Tuesday night, after Rosh Hashanah, following the news that Alexander Levlovitz, 64, was killed when his car crashed into a light pole, after he lost control of the vehicle.
“The driver who was involved in an accident, apparently as a result of stone-throwing… died at Hadassah-Ein Kerem hospital,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri said. The incident took place in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood of south Yerushalayim on Sunday night.
Two passengers in the car were also lightly injured.
A young Israeli woman, Bosmat Haberfeld, told reporters that she was driving along the same route when her car was attacked.
“They tried to throw rocks in our direction but missed and hit the driver behind us who lost control of the vehicle and was killed,” she said.
“We stopped a few yards away on the side to call the police. My mother saw a masked man run toward the car with a slingshot, she screamed at me to duck. I ducked down and I heard the glass shatter and my mother and I were covered in broken glass.”
“The Prime Minister views gravely the throwing of rock and firebombs at Israeli citizens and intends to fight this phenomenon with all means, including stricter punishment and law enforcement,” said a statement issued by his office.
Netanyahu’s office said he was urging swift passage of legislation to set a minimum punishment for offenders, among other measures.
Among those at the special meeting Tuesday night were Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Foreign Minister Director-General Dore Gold, Attorney General Weinstein and senior security officials.
Erdan on Tuesday night declared that “I will not allow this phenomenon to continue…[those who throw rocks] must not be able to be released on bail or after being given community service. This is not how you establish deterrence.”
Erdan said that in the current state of affairs “the odds that any of them [rock-throwers] will be sentenced to years in prison are nil,” an intolerable situation.
But Erdan’s proposal to get tough with judges who are lenient with Palestinian stone-throwers was not welcomed by High Court President Miriam Naor, who accused him of encroaching on the independence of the judiciary.
Erdan said judges who go easy on stone-throwers should be passed over for promotion on the bench. According to a media report, he plans to discuss with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who also heads the Judicial Appointments Committee, a list of 30 verdicts which he believes fell short of proper punishment.