Case closed despite video evidence
Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher; Photo credit: Honenu
Monday, March 30, 2020, 10:46 On the afternoon of Friday, September 6, 2019, three boys reported that an Arab had chased them with a knife near the Mevaseret Tzion Mall. Policemen who were called to the scene did not find any suspects and the case was closed due to lack of evidence. The police were also concerned that the boys had fabricated the report. Later Honenu presented to the police evidence from security cameras at the scene, which supports the boys’ testimony. Despite the evidence, the police decided to close the case again. Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher, who is representing the boys, filed an appeal with the Attorney General’s office on the decision. Bleicher detailed the unfolding of the attack: The three boys, aged 13-14, are students at the Chabad Yeshiva of Jerusalem, who went to the Mevaseret Mall for a tefilin-laying and shofar-blowing campaign. After their activity at the mall, the boys left in the direction of the main road. On the stairs leading to the road they encountered the attacker and another Arab. The attacker and his friend asked them questions about what they were doing, taunted them and then shouted at them. The boys quickly distanced themselves from the Arabs and headed for the bus station. Then they noticed that the attacker had drawn a long knife from one of his bags and was running after them. From the direction of the bus station two adults approached, who apparently caused the attacker to flee before he carried out an attack. The boys reported the incident to the police as the boarded a bus to Jerusalem and they also gave testimony to the policeman who met them in Jerusalem. On the following Sunday, one of the boys filed a complaint with the police. Policemen who came to the scene on the Friday of the incident did not find any suspects, and the case was closed several days later. Upon a request from Honenu, the mall’s security department located a video recording which sheds light on the attack and which leads to the suspects. Bleicher presented the evidence to the police and the investigation was reopened. The police also took testimony from one of the boys who had not yet given testimony. Approximately two months after the attack, the suspected attacker and his friend were detained and interrogated by the police. Later Bleicher was updated by the Jerusalem District Police that the case had been closed. Bleicher asked to examine the investigative material in order to consider filing an appeal and was shocked that despite the evidence the police had decided to close the case. As stated in the appeal, the testimonies of the boys, one of whom was asked if he understood the ramifications of giving false testimony, closely matches the video evidence from the security cameras. Additionally, the replies under interrogation by the suspected attacker were evasive and not at all reliable. Initially he denied speaking to the boys or running after them, and after the interrogator confronted him with the security camera video, he admitted to some of his actions. Bleicher emphasized that in the video clip, the suspect is seen holding an object as he chased the boys: “The suspect ran holding his right arm steady against his body while his left arm swayed unsteadily.” Bleicher added that testimony could be taken from the third boy and that: “In the face of the ample visual evidence and the detailed testimonies of the complainants, one must not accept the closing of the case. Being as this is a serious incident of an anti-Semitically motivated attempted stabbing, I request the cancellation of the closing of the case and an immediate trial for the suspect, before he carries out another attack.” At the time of this posting the Attorney General’s office has yet to respond.