Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

( The Ofer military court in Judea and Samaria acquitted an Arab who threw stones and severely injured a woman driver of attempted murder, stating there was not high enough a probability that throwing stones at vehicles would cause death. The court convicted the defendant, Ali Hamamrah, of causing grievous bodily harm instead, Ha’aretz reported Tuesday.

Hamamrah, along with four friends, threw stones at Israeli cars near the town of Beitar Illit in November 2012, during the Pillar of Defense operation in Gaza. The stones hit four cars, one of which was driven by Ziona Kala, who was badly injured: her jaw was broken and she suffered internal bleeding in the brain.


On Rosh Hashanah this year, 64-year-old Alexander Levlovitch lost control of his vehicle near the Palestinian neighborhood of Sur Baher in eastern Jerusalem when his car was hit by stones. His car then hit a power pole and landed in a ditch. Levlovitch died after sustaining critical wounds in the crash. As a result of the public outrage that followed, in late September Israel’s security cabinet unanimously voted to approve a temporary series of measures meant to clamp down on rock-throwing. The measures, set to last for three years, imposed a minimum four-year prison term for Arabs who throw rocks and Molotov cocktails, including for minors between the ages of 14 and 18, as well as fines for their parents and the cancellation of their welfare benefits.

But the military court on Tuesday ruled in a manner that seemed to ignore the past four months of dozens of deaths and rampant violence, abandoning its commitment to maintaining law and order and focusing instead on the defendant’s intent.

Hamamrah was charged with attempted murder for throwing the stones and for other security offenses. His lawyer, Khaled Alaarg, claimed that he threw the stones without intent to kill anyone. Judges Rani Amar, Menachem Lieberman and Sigal Turgeman accepted this argument and acquitted the defendant of attempted murder.

In the verdict, which was handed down last month and published this week, the justices discussed the fundamental question of whether throwing rocks at moving vehicles constitutes attempted murder (or murder in the case of death), or an act that is not necessarily meant to kill. “There is not enough evidence to suggest with high probability that the result of stone throwing carried out by Ali would have been death,” wrote Judge Amar. According to him, the stone-throwers while taking into account the possibility that their actions could cause death, were not proven to have wanted such a death to take place. In his words, “Ali acted with indifference to an outcome of death.”

The judge noted that following the attack the victim’s car stopped, and if the five youths would have wanted to kill her they would have continued to throw stones at her.

“The situation of throwing a few stones at a moving car can in some circumstances may lead to the conclusion that the throwers desired to cause the death of passengers,” Amar added. “However, it is clear that a situation where a few stones are thrown at a vehicle is different from other situations in which dozens of stones are thrown concurrently. In our case, on the basis of the evidence, I have not found evidence indicating that we are dealing with the latter situation. I also find it hard to accept the prosecution’s claim that the fact that Ali and his associates threw stones at several vehicles indicates unequivocally their intention to cause death. In addition, I do not disagree that throwing stones at a moving vehicle may cause a traffic accident. But an accident is only one of the possible outcomes and not the outcome with the highest probability. Moreover, even if an accident takes place, it does not necessarily lead to death as a result. Hence, although this possibility exists, it cannot be established that the intent was unequivocally to exterminate.”


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