Court: Arab Wedding Shootups a ‘Cultural Norm’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Outgoing Police Chief Roni Alshich. (Avshalom Sasoni/Flash90)

A Yerushalayim court on Thursday released two Arabs who were suspected of firing their guns off at a wedding and injuring a wedding guest – because of what the court said was the “cultural norm” of Arabs firing guns at weddings.

The incident occurred Wednesday night at a wedding in the Abu Tor neighborhood of the city. Numerous shots were fired in the air, but one bullet apparently hit an object and ricocheted onto a guest, injuring him. The guest was taken to a nearby hospital, and police detained two individuals who were involved in the shooting. The shooting victim is in serious condition, police said.

In its decision Thursday, Channel Ten reported, the court said that “we need to assess the danger of the custom in some circles to fire in the air as a sign of happiness” versus the risk that someone might get hurt by those shots. The court ordered the two released from custody, pending further legal action. The decision did not relate to the legality of the weapons or whether the shooters were licensed. Police criticized the decision, saying that it would make it more difficult for them to collect illegal weapons and fight crime, the report said.

Earlier this week, outgoing Police Chief Roni Alshich told a Knesset committee that collecting illegal weapons in the Arab sector was a next to impossible task. When asked by MKs on the Knesset Control Committee about why police have not collected those weapons, Alshich said that “collecting weapons is the wrong term here. There is no chance the holders of the weapons will give them to us.”

Alschich said that police preferred to use friendly persuasion to prevent wedding violence. “We know about the weddings before they take place, and we sit down with the family or tribal leaders and ask them to control or hold off the shootings. If we were to go full-force in enforcement without trying to prevent incidents before they take place we would be seen as a force that interferes with the society, and we would not be able to elicit better behavior,” he said.