The lead suspect in an incident that became one of the most infamous during the summer of disengagement was found innocent Sunday of charges that he tried to murder a Palestinian. The Beersheba District Court determined that had Shimshon Citrin, a 20-year-old resident of the West Bank settlement of Nahliel, really intended to kill Hilal Ziad al-Mahaida, he would - and could - have completed the act.
"If he had desired [to kill the youth] he could have completed the action that he had not succeeded in doing initially," the court wrote in their decision, released Sunday.
Citrin was charged with attempted murder following the June 2005 incident in which 18-year-old al-Majaida was seriously injured after being hit in the head by a rock thrown by a group of Israeli youths.
Prosecutors had argued that Citrin had thrown the rock - one of several thrown at the time - that had hit Majaida in the head, causing severe injury and massive bleeding.
Citrin, at the time 18, had come to the Gush Katif area to protest the impending pullout slated for later that summer. He and two companions, ages 16 and 18, were filmed throwing rocks at Palestinians in the "Muwassi," a Palestinian enclave within Gush Katif. Citrin and his companions argued at the time that the Palestinians had initiated the hail of rocks.
The order of events during that June day were well documented on video, and judges, in reviewing the evidence, found it impossible to confirm that it was indeed the rock thrown by Citrin that hit Majaida in the head. The court took into consideration the size of the rock, the size of Citrin's palms and the fact that he did not continue to throw heavy rocks at Majaida's prone body.
While he was cleared on the charge of attempted murder, Citrin was found guilty of battery under aggravated circumstances, issuing threats, rioting and entering a closed military zone.
The threat charges stem from the fact that Citrin threatened to assault a Jewish medic who arrived at the scene to try to administer first aid to the Palestinian.
The maximum penalty for aggravated assault is 20 years in prison, and in another three months the court will reconvene to sentence Citrin. While awaiting and during trial Citrin was in detention facilities for nine months and also under house arrest for over a year - periods that may be deducted from his sentence.