Shaked pushes bill to stiffen penalties against rock throwing

The proposed amendment to the law provides for up to 20 years in prison for an individual who throws a rock or other projectiles at a vehicle with specific intent to harm.

Ayelet Shaked  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Ayelet Shaked
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked announced Thursday that she will be aggressively pushing forward with legislation to increase the penalties for persons throwing rocks.
She will advance it with a fast-track legislative process starting with a vote of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday.
Little detail was provided by Shaked’s spokeswoman, but overall she confirmed the legislation would be similar to that which former justice minister Tzipi Livni had started to push forward.
If passed by the Knesset, the bill would increase the maximum penalty for people who throw rocks at vehicles to 10 or 20 years in prison, depending on the circumstances, and increase the chances of conviction.
A draft preamble to the bill complained that regarding punishments, the current law does not sufficiently distinguish between dangerous rock-throwers, specifically those who attack moving vehicles, and less dangerous ones, such as those who might throw small rocks at stationary soldiers from a distance.
According to the spokesman for the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, if Shaked wins a vote in the ministerial committee, she can use a special fast-track process to pass the bill into law with two consecutive special votes of the plenum.
In December 2014, the last Knesset approved the bill in its second and third readings following cabinet approval in November 2014.
However, before the initiative got any further, the Knesset dispersed, which means that absent the special fast-track process, the initiative would need to start the legislative process from square one.
When the bill was originally unveiled by a Justice Ministry spokesman in November 2014, the spokesman confirmed that there had been no change in the long-standing policy for prosecutors to seek three months of prison time in average cases involving less dangerous rock-throwing by minors.
Although the ministry spokesman noted that the bill that received government support addresses all rock-throwers and that the policy applies only to minors, the vast majority of rock-throwers are in fact minors.
The government had strong support for the new bill after rioters in east Jerusalem had targeted the light rail, as well as buses and private vehicles, with stone-throwing and other violence.
The proposed amendment to the law provided for up to 20 years in prison for an individual who throws a rock or other projectiles at a vehicle with specific intent to harm.
The amendment provided for up to 10 years jail for a rock-thrower who damages a vehicle and as a consequence endangers the life of a passenger or bystander, but does so without specific intent to harm.
The amendment’s preamble said that whereas low-grade rock throwing, as described, may pose very little danger to a soldier, dangerous rock throwing at passing vehicles has led to deaths and serious injury and deserves harsher punishment.
It complained that dangerous rock-throwers are sometimes getting short sentences, such as several months in jail, because the current law requires proving a criminal’s specific intent to harm people, not just that the criminal threw a rock.
The amendment included harsher punishments for stone-throwing against patrolling police vehicles.
-If the amendment becomes law, a court will be able to sentence a person to five years in prison for the specific crime of throwing stones at police patrols.
Around 1,000 indictments for stone-throwing are submitted each year, the preamble noted.
In addition to east Jerusalem, for years one of the largest categories of offenses in the West Bank has been rock-throwing, including a few cases that led to death, such as the Asher Palmer attack, or that which wounded, eventually fatally, baby Adele Biton.