Updated: Feb 8
Tuesday, November 30, 2021, 14:33 Following an appeal filed by Honenu Attorney Ophir Steiner, the Israeli Police decided to reopen an investigative case of an assault which occurred at a food production factory in Alfei Menashe in mid-November. Arab workers were harassing M., who had recently begun working at the factory, on a daily basis. Then one morning, when M. arrived at work, an Arab worker cursed him and punched him in the stomach. M. complained to the department manager, who tried to reconcile between them. M. then quit his job and filed a complaint with the police against the factory worker who had assaulted him.
To his surprise, M. discovered that the day after he filed the complaint with the police, the case was closed without either the manager or the assailant being summoned for interrogation. M. received a notice stating that “a decision has been made to close the case without carrying out a criminal investigation on the grounds that the circumstances of the incident are not suitable for opening an investigation. This is an incident for which criminal proceedings are not the appropriate framework for investigation.”
After the case was closed, M. turned to Honenu to file an appeal on the decision, because “it is very regrettable that the Israeli Police chose not to investigate the assault on me. I was assaulted by an Arab worker at the factory only because I am a Jew. I hope that the police will come to their senses and renew the investigation until they lay their hands on the assailant and he is penalized.”
Honenu Attorney Ophir Steiner, who is representing M., filed an appeal requesting that the case be reopened. The appeal is summarized below.
Violent physical acts directly concern the security of an individual and the basic right to be protected from bodily harm. There is also a significant suspicion that the assault was racially motivated and therefore a more severe penalty may be imposed than if it were not so motivated.
It is not clear how the Israeli Police came to the decision that the incident was not suitable for criminal proceedings. The conclusion that the assault and injury of a man, especially when there is a significant suspicion that the motive was racist, is not determined to be an incident which should be examined as criminal is very puzzling. There were witnesses to the assault who should be summoned for interrogation. Closing the case of an incident as serious as this, hastily and with no attempt to investigate, is liable to damage the security of Israeli citizens.
After the police announced that they would reopen the case, Steiner stated that “a punch in the stomach is dangerous, and only by luck did it not cause more serious damage to the health of my client. The Israeli Police closed the case because, in their opinion, the incident could not be prosecuted at a criminal level. It is inconceivable that a violent attack, certainly one suspected of being racially motivated, would not be considered criminal in nature. Indeed, protecting the security of citizens and preventing use of physical force, certainly that which is motivated by racism, is one of the central goals of the law enforcement system.
“In order to ensure the security of Israeli citizens, the law enforcement authorities must present a clear position, in accordance with the stance of the legislature and the ruling of the court. One who bodily injures another must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, particularly when the injury is motivated by nationalistic racism. In any event, we welcome the willingness of the police to reexamine the case and thoroughly investigate the incident.”