To victim's outrage, court acquits Palestinian stabber of attempted murder

“I felt like I’d been stabbed again,” Nirit Zamura said.

Israeli pedestrians stand on a roadside near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Efrat (photo credit: AMIR COHEN - REUTERS)
Israeli pedestrians stand on a roadside near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Efrat
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN - REUTERS)
The Judea Military Court has acquitted a Palestinian who stabbed Nirit Zamura while calling out “Allahu akhbar” during the height of the “Knife Intifada” in October 2015 of attempted murder, while convicting him of two lesser offenses.
Zamura told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, in response to the ruling issued late the previous day, that “I felt like I’d been stabbed again,” and terrorism victims’ support group Almagor called on Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to sponsor a law instructing courts to evaluate cases occurring in a terrorism context differently.
Though Hamza Afilat, from Hebron, was convicted of causing serious bodily harm and illegal knife possession when he attacked Zamura at the shopping complex at the Gush Etzion junction, the IDF Prosecution said it was considering an appeal of the surprising decision.
Zamura and her family expressed anger at the judges for “accepting all of the defense lawyers’ arguments and ignoring the prosecutor and other facts.”
The bottom line is that Afilat will likely serve five to seven years in prison instead of between 12 and 15 years.
Explaining its decision, the court said that it was bound by a line of cases that dictated there could be no attempted murder conviction when an attacker stabbed a victim with a knife only one time.
Zamura was furious with this finding, pointing out that the knife had broken after Afilat stabbed her, such that he could not stab her again even if that had been his plan.
In terms of legal precedent, while there are cases suggesting a one-time stabbing should not lead to an attempted murder or murder conviction, the court ignored the well-known case of Gadi Vichman.
Vichman was stabbed only once by a man after Vichman asked local teenagers to stop making loud noise in the middle of the night near his home in Beersheba in May 2012. The man who stabbed him was judged not to have premeditated intent, but was still convicted of murder.
Next, the court said that the fact that Zamura was stabbed in the back as opposed to the front and in the heart tended to create doubt about whether Afilat wanted to murder her or just injure her.
Again, Zamura was outraged telling the Post, “by a miracle the knife did not hit my heart, though it almost did” and pointing out that she was stabbed in the back because Afilat attacked her from behind, not to limit the harm of the attack.
She was stabbed next to third thoracic vertebra that is close to the heart.
Multiple legal sources said that it was surprising that the court did not view the case as one of attempted murder when it was clearly part of the wave of stabbings at the height of the “Knife Intifada” and with Afilat crying out “God is great” in Arabic as terrorists often do before they kill.
Zamura said she did not understand how the court could possibly conclude that Afilat’s running away after he stabbed her was a lenient circumstance when all it showed was that he did not want to get caught.
She told the Post that when she heard the verdict, “I could not believe it. I thought I didn’t understand it until I heard others crying out in despair.”
Further, she said that she and her family had been “badly shaken throughout the last two-and-a-half years, physically, emotionally and economically... When I understood the decision I burst into years.”
She said that she thought the judges involved had searched for ways to exonerate Afilat, and agreed with Almagor that the law needed to be changed to make it clear to judges that they could not view terrorism-stabbings and -attacks the same way they might view a stabbing in the context of petty theft.