In early February 2021, a gang of three Bedouin burglars broke into a family home in a small Jewish community in the Negev, and during the robbery raped a 10-year-old girl while her parents were sleeping in the next room.
The prosecutor’s office asked the court to sentence the young Bedouin who was all smiles during the hearing to 10 years in prison, but judges Yael Raz-Levi, Gilat Shalev, and Aharon Mishnayot of the Beer Sheva District Court ruled that due to extenuating circumstances he should only serve five years, and pay NIS 70,000 ($20,000) compensation to his victim.
The case rattled many in southern Israel and became a prime example of the loss of governability in the country. The prosecution presented to the court a plea agreement that included the perpetrator’s admission regarding the burglary and an attempt to sodomize a minor against her will – but the plea deal did not include a sentence, which was left up to the judges.
The girl’s father, who came to the court to hear the judges’ verdict, told Ynet: “Half of the sentence was devoted to the mitigating circumstances of the accused and the remorse he expressed. It’s a disgrace, I feel humiliated. We are at war and the Bedouin crime families must be eliminated. I came to this sentencing prepared for the worst, and I didn’t expect justice because I know the system. It is humiliating on a personal and national level.”
He added: “I don’t tell the girl about it. She doesn’t know there was a trial, let her think he is behind bars. He had such a big smile smeared on his face. The compensation is ridiculous, everything is ridiculous. He didn’t express remorse to us and didn’t apologize. When it happened, we thought at first it was a bad dream, but by the time we realized what had happened they already ran away. I ran with my weapon and tried to locate the criminals, but by then it was already too late.”
The family and their lawyers agreed to the plea deal to avoid having the girl testify in court. The prosecution’s representative attorney Yariv Tsari explained that the cross-examination of the young victim would have been difficult and would have gone into the most intimate details.
Otzma Yehudit Chairman Itamar Ben Gvir, soon to become Minister of Internal Security, God willing, stated in response to the court’s ruling: “This serious and shocking incident illustrates the difficult problems of the justice system. A terrorist who harmed not only the girl and her family, but all the residents of the country, should spend many years in prison and not receive any plea deal. This serious event severely damages the last remnants of Israel’s deterrence in the Negev and in general.
“No Israeli girl should be afraid to go out on the street and certainly not be in her home. It’s time to be the landlords, return governance and security to the residents of the south, set minimum sentences for these crimes, and give every boy and girl the security they deserve.”