(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
President Dorit Beinisch was lightly wounded Wednesday morning when a 52-year-old
man with a criminal record threw two of his sneakers at the chief justice as
she presided over a court hearing – striking her in the face with the first
shoe and knocking her off her chair as the second whizzed past.
Beinisch, who returned to work about an hour-and-a-half later, was shaken up and
slightly bruised in the incident, which broke her glasses and sparked chaos in
the courtroom and outer foyer of the High Court building, which is located in
the capital's government quarter.
The assailant, identified by police as Pinchas Cohen, entered the courtroom
around 11 a.m. on Wednesday, asked a bystander if the woman sitting on the
bench was in fact "the president" and then hurled his shoes in her
direction after receiving a positive response.
"You're corrupt! You've ruined our lives!" Cohen reportedly yelled
during the attack.
Security guards then lunged at Cohen, detained him immediately, and pulled him
out of the courtroom, which was subsequently cleared. Supreme Court Judges
Elyakim Rubinstein and Uzi Vogelman, who were also present during the attack,
were taken into their chambers after the incident as well. Cohen was placed
under arrest by police officers moments later.
According to police, Cohen has a record for past threats, including those made
against his lawyer Ariel Rozenblatt and Family Court Judge Phillip Marcus
during a 2006 court case, for which he was arrested.
While a police spokesman on Wednesday announced that Cohen had admitted to
carrying out the attack as revenge for a previous court ruling, it was unclear
if that ruling was connected to the 2006 court case.
JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:
Wednesday's attack occurred as the court was discussing a petition filed by the
Tikun Olam organization, which had asked the court to extend an interim order
preventing the Health Ministry from canceling the organization's license to
operate a greenhouse for medicinal marijuana in the . That case, however, was believed to be unrelated to the
Regarding the incident, Supreme Court Spokeswoman Ayelet Pilo told the Jerusalem
Post on Wednesday that she was positive the court's security
apparatus would "review and learn from the incident, and learn the
"As far as changes in their protocol however," Pilo said of the
courthouse guards, "It's far too early to say what kinds of changes, if
any, might be made."
Pilo agreed that it was impossible to have every person who entered the
building take off their shoes, but added that she was certain the building's
security guards would be vigilant in attempting to prevent such outbursts from
"The guards responded immediately, and the man was arrested and taken into
custody," Pilo said of the security guards' response.
On Wednesday afternoon, the director of the country's courthouses, Moshe Gael,
held a press conference inside the Supreme Court building, during which he told
reporters that, "we're seeing a society in Israel in which all of the
boundaries have been broken, all the red lines crossed."
"That said," Gael continued, "This was an especially severe
incident, which takes that sentiment even higher."
Gael also refused to elaborate on any potential changes the incident might
spell for security protocol inside the Supreme Court or elsewhere, although he
did remark that, "it's always good to update and renew the [existing
security] directives. There has already been an initial investigation into the
incident, and the security apparatus will continue to review it."
Nonetheless, Pilo announced later on Wednesday that Beinisch had called an
emergency meeting of all the heads of the country's courts for Thursday, in
light of Wednesday's attack.
Also on Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is currently in to
commemorate International Holocaust Day, telephoned Beinisch to express his
support for her after the attack.
“I’m mortified,” Netanyahu told
“Attacks must not be carried out
against the court, and hurting the Supreme Court president is unthinkable. I
support you and the entire legal system,” the prime minister said.
Justice Minister Ya'akov Ne'eman also
criticized the attack on Wednesday.
“This grave incident must not be
tolerated," Ne'eman said in a statement. “The attack hurts not only the
Supreme Court President, but the justice system as a whole. A justice system is
a major part of a democratic regime in any civilized state."
MK Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima) also issued a
statement after the incident, saying that the writing had been on the wall
months before the attack.
“[Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu's
thundering silence in the wake of wild attacks by his ministers against the
Supreme Court in the past year, was shattered today in an ugly way,” the
“It was shameful violence, the motives
for which were known to all."
Cohen, a police spokesman announced on
Wednesday evening, had expressed remorse over the attack and would be brought
in front of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Thursday for a hearing
regarding his remand.
jpost.staff contributed to this report
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>