The Tel Aviv District Court on Tuesday handed out a sentence of four years in prison and 18 months probation for a Sudanese refugee convicted of snatching a cell phone from a woman walking down a Tel Aviv street in March.

The court issued a statement Tuesday saying that the unusually-stiff sentence was meant "to protect the public and fight the phenomenon of robbery carried out by refugees who must respect the laws of the country they decided to enter illegally."

The verdict includes a description of the crime, during which the victim reportedly gave chase after the man snatched her phone and managed to grab his shirt, at which point he pushed her to the ground. According to the verdict, the woman then continued to chase the man who fell and dropped the phone, which he tried to steal back from the woman before he was subdued by bystanders.

The verdict adds that the refugee's lawyer trod to pleas for leniency drawing on his client’s experience as a refugee and saying that he was not allowed to work in Israel. The court answered that the defense wasn’t accepted, because "they [refugees] decide to come to Israel by choice, and are not forced to do so."

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