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Car-jacking narrowly averted, Jewish driver detained

Sunday, August 31, 2014, 9:41 A well-known Jewish contractor driving home late at night with two Jewish employees was detained after being confronted by Arabs who cut him off, tried to run him off the road and caused an accident. The contractor called the police to report the incident, but was himself placed in remand and later an indictment was filed against him. Honenu: “The police decision is shocking and astonishing.” The case began on Monday, August 25. The contractor, a resident of one of the Binyamin region communities, was driving home at night when near the Bir Zeit Intersection a large Arab vehicle came from the direction of Bir Zeit, cut him off and tried to run him off the road. Only the quick-wittedness of the contractor, who was forced to swerve onto the shoulder, prevented his vehicle from overturning. However the vehicles did scrape each other and damage estimated at 10,000 NIS was caused to the contractor’s vehicle. According to the contractor immediately after the slight collision, the Arab driver, who had two passengers with him, began to honk his horn and force the contractor off the road, while crossing a white line. The contractor, who feared stopping on the twisty, dangerous road reasoned that he was caught in an attempted robbery or terror attack, such as those that have occurred recently, and continued driving quickly to the Jewish community of Ateret and stopped next to the gate. The entire time the Arab vehicle had been speeding after him. At this point three Arabs stepped out of their vehicle and the contractor and his two Jewish employees stepped out of their vehicle. A clash broke out between the two sides. They shoved, kicked and one of the Arabs lifted large rocks and threatened the contractor. According to the contractor the clash started when the Arab driver punched him. The contractor called the police, who arrived after 20 minutes. Before the police arrived, when the contractor thought that the Arabs were about to escape, he punctured one of the Arab vehicle’s tires. Soldiers arrived on the scene and checked the personal information of the Arabs and discovered that one of them is not allowed within the Green Line by recommendation of the GSS. Policemen arrived on the scene and brought everyone involved with the incident to the police station. Both sides filed complaints. The Arabs claimed that the Jewish contractor had tried to run them off the road, however that is a most problematic statement because the Jews were driving on the main highway and the Arabs turned out of Bir Zeit. The Jewish passengers related that they felt threatened as the Arabs were following them and reacted accordingly after the Arabs approached them in a threatening manner. “The situation today is very dangerous,” said one of the Jews during his interrogation. “There have been incidents of car-jacking and terror attacks in which [Arab] drivers have forced cars off of the road. We were stressed by the incident, which we consider to have been an attempt to force us off the road.” “I told the interrogator that if a woman had been in my place they would have killed her. Either in an intentional traffic “accident” or afterwards when they got out of their vehicle in order to assault,” said the contractor after his release. In the end all of the Arabs and the two Jewish passengers were released. The Jewish contractor remained in remand. On the same day an indictment was filed against him on charges of assault, possessing a knife and damaging a vehicle. A spokesman from the Yehuda and Shomron District Police issued an announcement stating that one of the Arab complainants was moderately injured in the clash, however eye-witnesses described the incident as no more than a bit of shoving and kicking. Also after the Arabs were released at the police station, the “moderately injured” Arab changed the punctured tire by himself. Additionally, no medical documentation appears in the case file testifying to an injury caused to any of the Arabs. Despite the circumstances of the incident and the fact that the contractor does not have a criminal record the police requested that he be released to complete house arrest, which would severely harm his livelihood. The court ruled on his release to house arrest until a deliberation on the evidence which will take place the following day. Honenu attorney David HaLevi, who is representing the contractor, pleaded that his client acted in self defense and demanded that the house arrest be canceled. “If the defendant had been alone and had not acted as he had to repel them [the assailants], it could be that he would have been the victim of the serious assault,” said HaLevi. Judge Shmuel Herbst accepted the major part of HaLevi’s pleas partially “because of the unusual situation that night on the road between Bir Zeit and Neve Tzuf.” The road in that area is dark and twisty, on most of it there is no cell phone reception and there have been more than a few incidents of car-jacking during the past few months. Considering that the contractor is a normative individual without a criminal record, Judge Herbst ordered the cancellation of the complete house arrest and ruled on house arrest only at night for one month and thus the contractor is able to continue to work. Honenu attorney David HaLevi stated in response, “The decision to put my client on trial was difficult to understand and astonishing. My client is in fact the victim of an incident in which he found himself faced with a group of Palestinians who damaged his vehicle and chased him. My client had no doubt that they were attempting to injure him and if had not been for his immediate and decisive response, which defended him against his assailants it is doubtful that the incident would have ended as it did. Also the court largely accepted our position and canceled the restrictive conditions which the police had requested without justification.”

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