Adele Bitton is a baby girl who was seriously injured when her mother lost control of the vehicle she was driving and smashed into a truck, outside the city of Ariel in Samaria. She did that after a stone hit her car. The stone that was thrown, along with many others, was more the size of a cinder block than what one imagines when one reads the relatively innocent word “stone.”
The IDF, along with police and the secret police have rounded up the five young Arabs who decided to forego activities most other teenagers around the world take up late at night, in favor of hurling stones at Jewish cars. It’s the “Stones Intifada,” we’re told, it’s taking place in Judea and Samaria, where Jews and Arabs still come in contact with each other. It’s perceived as less serious than the Missiles and Mortars Intifada of Gazan Arabs, because, supposedly, when you’re hit by a stone you’re less likely to die than when a Kassam lands on your house.
Not in the case of Adele Bitton, who, since the harrowing night of March 14, 2013, is still fighting for her tiny life.
But the bad guys have been picked up, and will now have to face an Israeli military court. Israel, you see, has been reluctant for some 46 years to impose its legal system on the “territories” and so the crimes of local Arabs are being deliberated by IDF courts.
That’s gotta’ be scary, you’d think. Who wouldn’t prefer a civilian judge to a military tribune? We’ve all watched “A Few Good Men,” we know the Army tends to go short on defendants’ rights and privileges.
It turns out that the military judiciary system whose task it is to put an end to acts of terrorism, is surprisingly tolerant of them.
Three months ago, the senior judge at the Samaria Ofer Military Court, Maj. Amir Dahan, issued a verdict in the case of Ahmed Search, Adel Shehadeh, Ihab Alhfs and Na’al Search, four Arabs from the village of Marda, also near Ariel.
According to the indictment, those four boys participated in the rite of stone throwing at Jewish vehicles on Route 505, between Ariel and Apple junction – two years ago. The four reached the side of the road, spotted the Renault with Israeli plates driven by a Jewish family from Samaria, and threw rocks at them from a distance of about 30 feet.
Half the distance between the pitcher and the catcher in the major leagues. You can aim a stone pretty good from this distance if you know what you’re doing. If you can hit a catcher’s mitt, you can smash a moving car’s window.
That’s what they did, “smashed all the windows on the right side of the vehicle,” the indictment reads. One of the stones, the size of 4.7 by 7.4 inches, flew threw the windshield and hit the head of a 12-year-old girl that was sitting there.
He saw the girl, the Arab teenager with the brick. From 30 feet, if you can hit a catcher’s mitt, you can hit a 12-year-old girl’s skull. He fractured her skull, she was rushed to the hospital for surgery.
The prosecution asked to convict the four terrorists (I don’t know what other name you call a young man who hurls a brick at an innocent stranger from 30 feet) with attempted murder.
But the military court, in a long and thoroughly reasoned decision, chose to acquit the four of attempted murder. They were finally convicted of throwing stones and sent to four years in prison.
Judge Dahan (Ha’aretz called him ‘the most even-handed judge’) is a bearded, Orthodox Jew, who lives in the town of Gedera and, we hope, sleeps well at night. He was not satisfied with the court’s generally lenient attitude toward teenage Arabs who treat Jewish motorists and their passengers like so many ducks in a shooting gallery. Judge Dahan wrote that not every stone throwing is right away a case of attempted murder. In most cases it’s just, at best, a case of vandalism.
“The stone-throwing is a serious offense, whose severity changes based on variable circumstances,” wrote Judge Dahan. “It can bear the character of a hard and deadly felony, with near certainty of endangering human life—and it can also be a mischievous prank, without potential damage, carried out by a young man who has barely crossed the age threshold of criminal liability.”
As the “Stone Intifada” continues to spread, making Jewish life in Judea and Samaria once again unsafe in the extreme, Judge Dahan is proving to be a failure at delivering on the most essential role of a court in any civilized country: insuring people’s safety, in their homes and on the roads.
It is high time Israel followed the Levy Commission’s recommendations and imposed Israeli law on the Jewish parts of Judea and Samaria. But until that’s done, the IDF court must embrace the primary task of the IDF, which, last time we checked, did not include cuddling Arab baby killers.