Asher Palmer’s father asks court for ‘legal price tag’ of NIS 10 million

Michael Palmer, whose son and grandson were murdered by terrorists in 2011, wants to block future prisoner releases.

Michael Palmer at the Ofer military court 370 (photo credit: JOANNA PARASZCZUK)
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 the state.
“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 claiming.
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 issues.
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 damages.
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 separate.
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.
Agassi 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 eventually overturned.
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 deadly.
“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 again.”
Agassi also tried to get the court to confiscate for Michael Palmer the NIS 180,000 taxi that Arjeh used to throw the rock.
An 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. •