High Court Lightens Punishment of Young Rock Throwers

A Palestinian rock thrower in the village of Qusra near Shechem, earlier this month. (Flash90)
A Palestinian rock thrower in the village of Qusra near Shechem, earlier this month. (Flash90)

Israel’s High Court lightened the sentences of several Palestinian youths charged with rock-throwing, effectively rebuffing a law passed less than a year ago by the Knesset calling for tougher punishment.

The Court reduced on Monday the sentences of seven offenders indicted for three different incidents of rock-throwing at vehicles. In one of the incidents, a Jewish victim was injured by the rocks, requiring medical treatment, Arutz Sheva reported.

Lower courts had imposed sentences ranging from one to three years; but on appeal, they were lowered to from two to nine months, with a mandatory compensation of 8,500 shekels ($2,242).

Judge Uri Shoham said that the punishments were severe for minors; for most of them this was their first criminal offense.

“We view the actions of the appellants with the utmost severity, especially since we’re not talking about events which developed spontaneously, but which involved on-site planning, in the framework of which the appellants formed a plan for hurting Jews – because they were Jews,” Judge Shoham wrote.

“Behavior of this kind, motivated by ideological concerns, meant to disrupt daily life in the state – needs a tough and deterring response in the form of tangible punishments. However, one cannot escape the fact that all the appellants were minors, aged 13.5 to 17, at the time the crimes were committed.”

Judges Neal Hendel and Tzvi Zilbertal also participated in the decision.

At the time of voting on the bill in November 2015, Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home) presented it to the plenum, saying that “the punishment for throwing rocks is far from reflecting the ramifications and the death they cause. A minimum punishment is necessary to create a deterrent and uproot the assumption that ‘it’s just a rock.’ ”

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