Michael Palmer at the Ofer military court 370.
(photo credit: JOANNA PARASZCZUK)
Michael Palmer asked the Judea Military Court on Wednesday for a “legal price
tag” of approximately NIS 10 million in damages against Waal al-Arjeh, who
murdered his son Asher and grandson Yonatan.
The court sentenced Arjeh on
April 23 to two life sentences plus 58 years for killing the two Palmers near
Kiryat Arba on September 23, 2011.
“Michael has taken on Israel, the EU
and the White House, and said you may be legally able to release a murderer, but
if so, there will be a price to pay,” said the elder Palmer’s lawyer, Adrian
Agassi, in explaining the idea of a “legal price tag.”
In one of the most
dramatic moments at the court, Palmer lashed into Arjeh’s defense counsel when
asked about what victims’ compensation payments Asher’s family had received from
“Yes, we received payments after your client killed my son and
grandson,” he declared with unconcealed disdain.
The defense counsel was
cross-examining Palmer about the validity of the damages the family was
Another significant moment came when the defense counsel did
not understand what the American- born Palmer had said, since he was testifying
in English followed by a translation to Hebrew, and the lawyer was not expecting
him to make comments other than those specifically related to monetary
In the surreal exchange, the translator and the judges repeated
several times to the defense counsel Palmer’s statement about Arjeh having
“killed my son and grandson,” until, finally understanding, the defense counsel
exasperatedly said this was not the point of cross-examination over monetary
Agassi presented arguments for why the court should grant the
damages judgment against Arjeh.
He noted that Palmer could not file a
regular civil lawsuit in Israeli civilian courts relating to the criminal trial,
since the court system generally viewed the military courts as
In other words, said Agassi, the only way to compensate victims
of terrorism that Palestinians living in the West Bank and convicted in the
military courts had committed, was through the military courts.
acknowledged that the argument was novel, but added that it made sense based on
the legislative organization of the military courts, and it could be a stronger
deterrent to Palestinians if they could be hit with fines that would block their
release in a diplomatic deal.
The defense counsel appeared to want to
highlight that the damages Palmer himself was claiming were not concrete and
were hard to quantify.
Agassi responded that the damages related to the
two victims as well as to their family.
According to the IDF, Arjeh and
an accomplice, Ali Saadeh, intentionally threw a stone from a moving taxi
through the front windshield of Asher Palmer’s vehicle. The stone broke the
windshield, causing the 24-year-old Palmer to lose control of the car, which
He and his son Yonatan, two days short of his his first birthday, died. Asher Palmer’s wife, Puah, gave birth to a girl five
months after the attack.
According to the court, it was not a random,
small roadside stone that the assailants tossed; the object was large and
“It was thrown from an oncoming vehicle that was traveling in the
opposite direction,” said Agassi, a former military court judge. “At that
velocity, it was like shooting a bullet.”
Next, the attorney hoped to
convince the judges to issue the monetary judgment, as the “court must be sick
and tired of sentencing people and the government releasing them
Agassi also tried to get the court to confiscate for Michael
Palmer the NIS 180,000 taxi that Arjeh used to throw the rock.
unrelated victim, Hillel Landaw, whose car Arjeh hit with a rock but who was not
wounded, also testified, demanding damages based on the damage to his vehicle
and missed work.
The court is due to decide on August 20. •