A couple of weeks ago Tzvi Struck was sentenced to a year and a half in jail, a fifty thousand shekel fine, and, following his release from prison, a year’s probation. Struck was convicted by Judge Amnon Cohen of kidnapping a fifteen year old Arab, three counts of assault, causing ‘grievous bodily harm,’ and intent ‘to harm an animal.’ According to the Arab youth, he was kidnapped, beaten and then tied up and left unconscious naked in a field.
Struck, 28 years old, married with three children, denied anything to do with the incident. A farmer in the Binyamin region (between Judea and Samaria, north of Jerusalem,) he grows grapes in vineyards on land legally appropriated to him by the State of Israel in the Shilo Valley. He had a clear-cut alibi: he was irrigating another field, in a different area at the time of the attack. The judge did not disbelieve the alibi. Rather he decided that Struck would have had time to do both: irrigate the other field and attack the Arab.
Who were the witnesses blaming Struck? Of course, the Arab youth. His father is a ‘Palestinian policeman.’ The main witness was brought to the trial from his jail cell. He is on trial for hurling fire-bombs at Jews. The attorney aiding the Arabs was Michael Sfard, who represents ‘Peace Now.’ The left-wing organization “Yesh Din’ took an active role in the case. According to internal sources, the ‘Palestinian policeman’ – the accuser’s father, actually directed the investigation, decided which witnesses should testify, and acted as translator during witness’ testimony to police.
Tzvi Struck has a clean legal record. According to character witnesses, including the Binyamin area Brigade commander, Struck is ‘gentle, restrained, and law-abiding,’ and the crimes he is accused of are ‘inconsistent with his behavior.’
Yet, the judge chose to believe the Arabs and disregard Struck’s account. He didn’t discount his alibi. But he ignored serious contradictions in the Arabs’ testimony. Three of the witnesses presented essentially different accounts in court from the testimony they gave to the police. The attacked youth testified that he had never had any contact with Struck. Yet his father and others testified that they did know him and had been involved in land disputes with him. The father forgot to tell this fact to the police during prior questioning. Another witness claimed that the attacked youth hadn’t been present at the ‘scene of the crime.’ However, the judge chose to ignore the contradictions, explaining them as ‘innocent mistakes,’ and stating that it is ‘not worth relating to them.’
Much evidence seemed to disappear. Bloodstains, fingerprints, handcuffs, bloody clothing, and even the tree that the main witness hid behind, watching the crime being committed, all vanished. Or perhaps, never existed.
The judge based the conviction upon tractor tracks (the tractor was also never found) and empty gun cartridges from Struck’s gun, (he wasn’t accused of shooting at the youth). Judge Cohen literally stood on his head to prevent from calling the Arabs liars and acquit Struck. In essence, the judge had to decide who he believed. He chose the Arabs, saying that the identity of the attacker had been established beyond all doubt.
Arabs in the Binyamin region are furious at the fact that Jews work the land, as does Struck. There are numerous clashes between them and Jewish farmers. Struck had to deal with theft, sabotage, arson, destruction of young seedlings, and even shooting attacks while working at his own vineyard.
As the above accounts prove, numerous contradictions in testimony were given to the police and in court. Additionally, such blood libels against Jews are nothing new. The prime example is that of Muhammed al-Dura, the child supposedly killed by Israeli soldiers in Gaza. The film of his alleged death was exposed as a forgery and a fraud. And most lately, the infamous Goldstone report, now repudiated by its author.
And finally, the decision in this case can also be attributed to an attempt by the police, the prosecutor’s office and the judiciary to avenge their pride, which has been sorely disgraced by Tzvi Struck’s mother, Mrs. Orit Struck. Orit Struck founded and directs the Organization of Human Rights in Yesha (Judea and Samaria). The organization both defends Jews against fabricated criminal charges and also prosecutes police and others who have abused rights of Jews in Judea and Samaria. She is quite successful, and as such, has earned the wrath of left wing leaders in all walks of Israeli bureaucracy. Sending her son to jail for eighteen months, and forcing him to pay a fifty thousand shekel fine, is easily defined as pure, simple retribution. Otherwise, it is impossible to comprehend the judge’s decision and conviction.
This article was authored by David Wilder and Itzik Shadmi. Itzik Shadmi is a Lt. Colonel (Res.) in the IDF and chairman of the Benyamin region Action Committee.