Ali Saada, along with Waal al-Arjeh, killed Asher Palmer and his baby son Yonatan in 2011 by throwing rocks at their vehicle..
(photo credit: COURTESY KIRYAT ARBA LOCAL COUNCIL)
An IDF court has granted massive punitive damages, in the amount of NIS 3.5 million, to the family of Asher and Yonatan Palmer, victims of a terrorist attack perpetrated by Ali Saada and Waal al-Arjeh.
The unprecedented ruling was handed down late Thursday by the Judea Military Court against Saada, along with a prison sentence of two life terms plus 50 years, but has not been publicly announced.
In February, the Palmer family’s lawyer, Adrian Agassi, requested massive punitive damages, but for an extended period there has been no decision, likely in part due to the novelty of the issue, as Israeli civilian courts in similar cases are capped in granting punitive damages beyond NIS 200,000.
Agassi called the decision a “legal price tag” which could better deter future terrorism and possibly make it harder to release those sentenced in any future prisoner exchange deal.
In December 2013, Arjeh was sentenced to two life sentences plus 58 years for the murder of Asher Palmer, 25, and his infant son, Yonatan, in 2011.
The two were killed when Arjeh threw a stone through the windshield of their car.
Grandfather and father Michael Palmer recalled arriving at the family home to see “a gurney with Asher’s body wrapped in a tallit, and a little box on top; in the box was Yonatan’s body.”
According to the IDF, Arjeh and his accomplice, Saada, intentionally threw a stone from a moving taxi through the front windshield of Asher’s vehicle. The stone broke the windshield, causing Asher to lose control of the car, which eventually overturned.
Initially, security forces thought Palmer and his son died in a car accident on Route 60 outside the Kiryat Arba settlement on September 23, 2011. It took days before the Defense Ministry recognized them as victims of terrorism.
The NIS 3.5m. is lower than the NIS 10m. that Agassi originally requested, but is still unprecedented, and Saada is expected to appeal.
The NIS 3.5m. punitive award was based on Agassi’s expansive reading of Section 182 of the applicable Security Law, which, unlike in Israel, has no set financial limit.
But until now no one had pushed the limits like Agassi, who gave substantial credit to Michael for his perseverance and “taking on the system,” since he said the IDF prosecution would not have originally pushed for such high damages.
Regardless of the original IDF position, the IDF later joined in the push, and references were made to an ongoing debate in Israel about raising punitive damages surrounding an article on the topic by Osnat Eliram.
The NIS 3.5m. came from a breakdown of about NIS 1m. for Yonatan, NIS 2.2m.
for Asher, NIS 200,000 special damages to Asher’s wife, Puah, and some other smaller amounts.