Molotov cocktail set man on fire, but the case was closed

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Arab rioting, Ramle, May 2021 (Illustration); Photo credit: Yossi Aloni/Flash90

Wednesday, November 16, 2022, 9:29 Approximately two months after an investigative case concerning a serious attack in Ramle during Operation Guardian of the Walls (May 2021) was closed, Honenu Attorney Ophir Steiner wrote a letter to the office of the State Attorney demanding that the attackers be put on trial. Under interrogation, the two attackers admitted that they had thrown a Molotov cocktail at a Jewish-owned home in Ramle.


The victim was sitting on his porch when suddenly a Molotov cocktail was thrown at him. It exploded, set his property on fire, and caused severe burns to his entire body. The victim ran back and forth in pain, calling out, "I'm burning!" and ran to his neighbors, who helped him extinguish the flames. Despite the admission of the suspects in the attack, which was recorded by a neighboring house's security cameras, and despite the reenactment of the incident by the main suspect with the interrogators, in the end, the investigating authorities decided to close the case without putting any of the suspects on trial.


In the appeal against the case closing that he filed with the office of the State Attorney, Honenu Attorney Ophir Steiner pointed to the substantial evidence in the case that in his opinion is sufficient to prove that the suspects committed the acts attributed to them and that their motive was purely antisemitic. Steiner emphasized that the suspects admitted under interrogation that they had injured a Jew solely because of his Jewishness.


Concerning the motive, Steiner wrote in the appeal that the Arabs heard the burning Jewish victim's shouts, but fled the scene without providing any assistance, which strengthens the proof that their clearly racially motivated intent was to injure a Jew and possibly cause his death: "Examination of the investigative material reveals admissions by the suspects, a reenactment of the crime, incriminations, eyewitness testimonies, material evidence, and a large body of evidence that reinforces [our claims]. There is a sound foundation of evidence that undoubtedly points to a reasonable probability of conviction. This case involves extremely serious acts, the most serious being a racially motivated attempt to cause death, [as indicated by] the testimonies of the suspects who left the site while the complainant was still screaming in his suffering. Therefore we ask for the case to be reopened and the terrorists to be penalized to the full extent of the law."


In conclusion, Steiner cited the importance of prosecuting cases of this type: "Defending public security and preventing racially-nationalistically motivated violent, life-threatening attacks is in the utmost public interest. This attack occurred during Operation Guardian of the Walls, at a time when the country's cities were in flames. The law enforcement authorities must verify that the message is clear: There are no 'windows of opportunity' for terror, and those who choose terror must not be allowed to tear apart the State from within. A feeling of security must be returned to citizens. In particular, as for the two terrorists in this case, one can only wonder how the State can allow those who on the face of it, decided to set a man on fire only because he was a Jew and left him wallowing in his own blood, to continue to walk about freely, without any attempt to put them on trial."


Honenu Attorney Ophir Steiner stated, "This was an extremely serious incident: setting a man on fire with a Molotov cocktail and leaving the scene immediately afterward as the victim tried to overcome the flames completely engulfing him. The attack could have easily ended in death. The horrific act was committed with the intent of injuring a Jew only because he was a Jew living in a mixed Jewish-Arab city during Operation Guardian of the Walls. Although the case is overflowing with evidence against the attackers who admitted to their atrocious acts, the office of the State Attorney found it correct to close the case. In instances such as this, the attackers should be penalized to the full extent of the law. Any other reaction damages public security and the deterrence factor."

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