20-month sentence for religiously motivated assault

Sunday, November 4, 2018, 18:20 Jerusalem District Court Judge Rafi Carmel handed down a 20-month active prison sentence and a suspended sentence to an Arab who assaulted two Jewish brothers in the City of David neighborhood of Jerusalem and forced them to say a prayer of conversion to Islam. Judge Carmel also imposed a 3,000 NIS fine on the Arab and compensation of 12,000 NIS to each brother, stating that, “The injury will not pass quickly, if at all.” The assault occurred approximately one year ago, on a Shabbat morning, near the City of David neighborhood of Jerusalem when the two young brothers were walking to Ma’ayan HaShiloah (The Pool of Siloam). The assailant, who was sitting with a friend when the brothers passed, suddenly rose and punched one of the brothers in the face. The two brothers fled the scene and hid behind a nearby parked car, then they continued to Ma’ayan HaShiloah and immersed themselves. Hoping that the danger had passed, they returned the way they had come and headed for the Western Wall. However on their way they again encountered the Arab and his friend, who blocked their way. The two brothers froze in their tracks out of fear, then the Arab and his friend started to humiliate and abuse them. The assailants took the brothers’ payot and tied them to each other as one of them filmed the abuse on his cellphone. They also forced the brothers to repeat statements denigrating Israel and praising Hamas. Following that, they dragged the brothers down the road, punched one of them in the chest, and forced him to say the “Shahada”, the prayer from the ceremony of conversion to Islam. Then they bent the brothers’ heads down and forced them to kiss their hands as they kicked them. At some point during the assault the brothers succeeded in fleeing the scene. The following day the brothers filed a complaint with the Jerusalem Police and positively identified the two Arab assailants. Honenu has been assisting the brothers since the case began and has followed the progress of the proceedings. In the verdict, the Jerusalem District Court described the deep injury to the brothers: “The defendant violated the social principles of bodily and spiritual integrity of the complainants, mainly with regards to the spiritual-religious aspect. The extent of the violation is large and significant.” Judge Carmel described how the brothers were forced to repeat verses of Muslim faith, despite their appearance which indicates that they are religious Jews and said that it was a “violation worse than a physical injury or an act of violence. The injury will not pass quickly, if at all.” In addition to the criminal case, the brothers sued the defendant and the other assailant in a civil suit for bodily, emotional and spiritual damage. They are demanding punitive compensation for the incident and the sum total of the suit is 800,000 NIS. Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher: “Anyone who was a party to the case was unable to remain indifferent in the face of the severe anti-Semitic abuse. This was apparent also in the verdict handed down by the honorable Judge Carmel, who imposed a significant prison sentence on the defendant, and also voiced his opinion that the defense attorney who complained about the verdict should read how the defendant had injured the complainants and then he would understand the severity of the matter. We welcome this important verdict and the understanding that one must not be silent in the face of religiously motivated assault and humiliation.”

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