Palmer calls for support in trial of murder suspects

Father of Kiryat Arba man and baby killed in crash says Israelis should show prosecutors that terror victims are not forgotten.

Funeral of Kiryat Arba car accident victims 311 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Funeral of Kiryat Arba car accident victims 311
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Ahead of a military court hearing in the trial of five Palestinians charged with causing the fatal crash of his son Asher Palmer and infant grandson Yonatan, Michael Palmer called again on Tuesday for public support during the trial.
Asher and his son Yonatan were killed when their car overturned on Route 60, just outside Kiryat Arba, last September. Though the IDF initially said the car crash was a tragic accident, after a subsequent investigation they revealed their suspicions that the Palmers were murdered as a result of rocks thrown at their moving car.
In November, the military advocate-general indicted five Palestinian men, allegedly part of a terror cell formed to harm Israelis, in the Ofer Military Court in connection with the Palmers’ deaths.
At the last trial hearing, in the Ofer Military Court near Ramallah last month, the IDF allowed a group of 10 members of the public to accompany Palmer and his son Shmuel to the courtroom.
Palmer said that the strong support he received from the public – over 100 people contacted him and asked to attend the trial – helped him and his family through the difficult hearing in the tiny, crowded military courtroom, at which the defendants’ families were also present.
“The strong public support at the hearing on March 11 demonstrated strongly that terror victims and Israeli society at large expect justice from the justice system,” Palmer said, adding that at a previous hearing in February, he had been upset when the defendants’ families had shouted their support for the five Palestinians in the dock.
“There was barely any Jewish presence [at that February hearing] and the murderers openly received encouragement from their supporters in the courtroom,” Palmer said.
The military trial hearings in the Palmer case have so far been open to the public, including the press, although the IDF limited the number of non-press spectators to 10 at the March hearing, citing space restrictions in the courtroom.
Palmer said it was essential for the military court system to see that the Israeli public cares about justice for terror victims.
“It is, I believe, very important to show the prosecution and the court that Asher and Yonatan, and all victims of terror, are remembered and that we demand justice for their murderers,” he added.
The five defendants – Ali Sa’adeh, Wa’al al-Arjeh, Iyad al-Baw, Mahmoud al-Baw and Mohammed al-Baw – are charged under the Military Order 1651 regarding Security Provisions in the West Bank.
According to the indictments, the five men formed a cell to assault Israelis in revenge for a “price-tag” attack on a Nablus mosque shortly before the killings. They decided to throw rocks from a moving car at Israeli cars in the West Bank, the indictment alleges, with the aim of killing passengers.
If the court finds the defendants guilty of deliberately causing the deaths, it will set a legal precedent, as to date no one has ever been convicted of murder as a result of rock throwing.
The next trial date is set for April 18 at the Ofer Military Court.
Michael Palmer asks anyone interested to contact him at [email protected]