Assailant hurls shoe at Beinisch

Supreme Court president lightly hurt in attack.

Beinisch (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Supreme CourtPresident Dorit Beinisch was lightly wounded Wednesday morning when a 52-year-oldman with a criminal record threw two of his sneakers at the chief justice asshe presided over a court hearing – striking her in the face with the firstshoe and knocking her off her chair as the second whizzed past.

Beinisch, who returned to work about an hour-and-a-half later, was shaken up andslightly bruised in the incident, which broke her glasses and sparked chaos inthe courtroom and outer foyer of the High Court building, which is located inthe capital's government quarter.
The assailant, identified by police as Pinchas Cohen, entered the courtroomaround 11 a.m. on Wednesday, asked a bystander if the woman sitting on thebench was in fact "the president" and then hurled his shoes in herdirection after receiving a positive response.
"You're corrupt! You've ruined our lives!" Cohen reportedly yelledduring the attack.
Security guards then lunged at Cohen, detained him immediately, and pulled himout of the courtroom, which was subsequently cleared. Supreme Court JudgesElyakim Rubinstein and Uzi Vogelman, who were also present during the attack,were taken into their chambers after the incident as well. Cohen was placedunder arrest by police officers moments later.
According to police, Cohen has a record for past threats, including those madeagainst his lawyer Ariel Rozenblatt and Family Court Judge Phillip Marcusduring a 2006 court case, for which he was arrested.
While a police spokesman on Wednesday announced that Cohen had admitted tocarrying out the attack as revenge for a previous court ruling, it was unclearif that ruling was connected to the 2006 court case.
Wednesday's attack occurred as the court was discussing a petition filed by theTikun Olam organization, which had asked the court to extend an interim orderpreventing the Health Ministry from canceling the organization's license tooperate a greenhouse for medicinal marijuana in the . That case, however, was believed to be unrelated to theattack.
Regarding the incident, Supreme Court Spokeswoman Ayelet Pilo told the JerusalemPost on Wednesday that she was positive the court's securityapparatus would "review and learn from the incident, and learn thenecessary lessons."
"As far as changes in their protocol however," Pilo said of thecourthouse guards, "It's far too early to say what kinds of changes, ifany, might be made."
Pilo agreed that it was impossible to have every person who entered thebuilding take off their shoes, but added that she was certain the building'ssecurity guards would be vigilant in attempting to prevent such outbursts fromhappening again.
"The guards responded immediately, and the man was arrested and taken intocustody," Pilo said of the security guards' response.
On Wednesday afternoon, the director of the country's courthouses, Moshe Gael,held a press conference inside the Supreme Court building, during which he toldreporters that, "we're seeing a society in Israel in which all of theboundaries have been broken, all the red lines crossed."
"That said," Gael continued, "This was an especially severeincident, which takes that sentiment even higher."
Gael also refused to elaborate on any potential changes the incident mightspell for security protocol inside the Supreme Court or elsewhere, although hedid remark that, "it's always good to update and renew the [existingsecurity] directives. There has already been an initial investigation into theincident, and the security apparatus will continue to review it."
Nonetheless, Pilo announced later on Wednesday that Beinisch had called anemergency meeting of all the heads of the country's courts for Thursday, inlight of Wednesday's attack.
Also on Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is currently in tocommemorate International Holocaust Day, telephoned Beinisch to express hissupport for her after the attack.

“I’m mortified,” Netanyahu toldBeinisch.

“Attacks must not be carried outagainst the court, and hurting the Supreme Court president is unthinkable. Isupport you and the entire legal system,” the prime minister said.

Justice Minister Ya'akov Ne'eman alsocriticized the attack on Wednesday.

“This grave incident must not betolerated," Ne'eman said in a statement. “The attack hurts not only theSupreme Court President, but the justice system as a whole. A justice system isa major part of a democratic regime in any civilized state."

MK Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima) also issued astatement after the incident, saying that the writing had been on the wallmonths before the attack.

“[Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu'sthundering silence in the wake of wild attacks by his ministers against theSupreme Court in the past year, was shattered today in an ugly way,” thestatement read.

“It was shameful violence, the motivesfor which were known to all."

Cohen, a police spokesman announced onWednesday evening, had expressed remorse over the attack and would be broughtin front of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Thursday for a hearingregarding his remand.

jpost.staff contributed to this report