Why was the case against left-wing activists closed?
Tuesday, March 14, 2017, 12:48 Honenu had demanded the re-opening of an investigative case against an Arab suspected of aggravated assault on a Jew with a camera he received from B’Tselem and under the protection of Arik Ascherman, a left-wing activist. In mid-March 2017 Honenu demanded that the police and the Military Advocate General reopen a case involving an Arab B’Tselem photographer and left-wing activist Arik Ascherman, who are suspected of assaulting a Shilo resident eight years ago. The case was closed approximately five years ago, but only recently did the victim, a Shilo resident in his 60’s who lost consciousness as a result of the assault, find out that the case has been closed against both of his assailants. The incident occurred when a group of Arabs from the village of Karyut came with a group of left-wing activists from the “Rabbis for Human Rights” organization, then headed by Ascherman, to do agricultural work in a field near Shilo. Two Shilo residents who had been working the field for close to 25 years arrived at the site and summoned Shilo’s head of security, the army and the police in order to disperse the Arab trespassers. The Arabs claimed that the land belonged to Arabs from Karyut and that they had received authorization from the village council to work the field. The left-wingers and the Shilo residents started to argue. One of the residents blocked the tractor that was plowing in order to stop the intrusion. At this point Ascherman and an Arab activist known for his involvement with Karyut’s struggle against Jewish communities and IDF forces in the area, approached the Shilo resident. The activist had a camera from the B’Tselem organization. According to the resident’s complaint and the testimony of a soldier at the site, the photographer put his camera up against the resident’s face and at some point hit him hard in the forehead with the camera and his elbow. As a result of the blow, the Shilo resident lost consciousness and fell to the ground. He was rushed to the Sha’arei Tzedek Medial Center where he received medical treatment and was released several hours later. The assailant was detained and admitted to injuring the Shilo resident with his elbow. However he claimed that the injury was accidental and also claimed that the resident had tried to grab his camera. Despite the assailant’s admission and the testimonies of Shilo residents and a soldier who witnessed the assault, the military court ordered his release on the grounds that the assault did not constitute posing a danger. Ascherman, who witnesses claim kicked the resident in the legs, was interrogated at the police station and released. Despite contradictions between Ascherman’s testimony and that of the Arab assailant, the police and the Military Advocate General decided to close the case for lack of evidence. The case was closed after approximately three years. However the complainant was not informed of the closing, in violation of the crime victims’ law. Honenu recently took on the case and demanded the reopening of the case against both Ascherman, who is accused of leading the incitement at the site, and the Arab assailant against whom there is prima facie enough evidence to file a severe indictment. Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher: “We see that at a time when every Jew who spits [at an Arab] is treated decisively by a special unit of the police, an Arab, who admits to a serious assault and against whom there is evidence, has not been brought to trial and has in the past years continued to instigate clashes with IDF forces and Jewish residents of the area and participate in them, and a left-wing activist who was behind the incident and it could be said created the assault, have not been handled properly by the legal system.”