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.
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
The verdict includes a description of the crime, during which
the victim reportedly chased after the man after he snatched her
She allegedly 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 bystanders subdued him.
The verdict adds that the refugee’s
lawyer presented 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 was not accepted, because “[refugees] decide to come to Israel
by choice, and are not forced to do so.”
The court also ruled that the
defense was inadequate because asylum seekers “first make their way to Egypt and
only after they see the quality of life is not suitable for them and does not
suit their needs they decide to come to Israel.”
In regard to whether or
not the sentencing could be seen as racist or discriminatory, the court wrote
that as it “has discovered what is a menace to the country, which is particular
to a certain segment of the population, it is the court’s responsibility to
defend the public from it, and any claim that this is discrimination or racism
must be dismissed outright.”
This is not the first time an asylum seeker
has been given a severe sentence as an act of deterrence to all African
migrants. In May, the Tel Aviv District Court handed down a sentence of four-and-
a-half years in prison and 18 months suspended sentence to an Eritrean man
convicted of stealing a woman’s purse in Tel Aviv. The court said the sentence
was meant as deterrence to other migrants.
According to research the
Knesset Interior Committee compiled, the crime rate among foreigners in Israel
is lower than that of the general public.
In a paper released in late
May, the committee said, “from 2011- 2012 there has been an increase in the
number of crimes committed by foreigners in Israel but the percentage of crime
among them is still lower than that among the general population.”
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