Israel state attorney stiffens penalties for rock throwing

Order pertains to minor and especially to assailants who attack vehicles.

September 9, 2015 21:49
1 minute read.
Wadi Joz

Palestinians hurl stones during clashes with Israeli police in east Jerusalem's Wadi al-Joz neighbourhood [File]. (photo credit: REUTERS)

State Attorney Shai Nitzan on Wednesday ordered all prosecutors to seek stiffer penalties for rock throwing, even by minors.

The move is aimed primarily at those who throw rocks at vehicles, which the state has already defined as endangering the lives of drivers and passengers.

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Nitzan has also directed prosecutors to ask courts to remand defendants until the end of their trials.

His new marching orders come against the background of a spike in rock throwing attacks on vehicles in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, as well as Knesset legislation providing for harsher sentences and a recent commitment by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to crack down on the phenomenon.

Internationally, the directive will likely generate controversy, mostly because it is also aimed at minors, although it will take into account individual circumstances, including age and whether the defendant is a first-time offender.

It will not apply to those who throw rocks at soldiers or non-vehicular targets, or in other cases considered to engender a lesser degree of danger.

One area of confusion concerns rock throwing against the Jerusalem Light Rail.

Although light-rail cars are moving vehicles, the state generally does not claim that passengers are in any real danger when rocks are thrown.

Nevertheless, Nitzan’s order appears to imply that prosecutors will seek to come down hard on such rock-throwers because they “cause fear.”

When pressed on how harshly these rock-throwers would be treated, a Justice Ministry representative was unsure and did not respond with a clear answer by press time.

Jerusalem District Attorney Nurit Leitman took the lead in developing the new regulations.

Her office deals with the largest number of rock throwing incidents within the civil law system.

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