Punishing stone-throwers

New legislation allows the prosecution to demand a 10-year term without having to prove intent to harm.

Mourners bid farewell to four-year-old Adele Biton (photo credit: ALONI MOR)
Mourners bid farewell to four-year-old Adele Biton
(photo credit: ALONI MOR)
Since last Monday, hurling stones at passing vehicles is deemed by law to constitute a terrorist act that could get perpetrators long prison stretches.
This follows Knesset ratification of more stringent sentencing guidelines for attacks on civilian traffic. This legislation allows the prosecution to demand a 10-year term without having to prove intent to harm.
In the event that such intent is proven, sentences can be doubled to 20 years.
The law – passed by a majority of 69 (including many opposition MKs) to 17 (mostly from the Joint (Arab) List) – amends legislation in which sentence-severity hinged on proof of intent. This resulted in attackers frequently getting off with slaps on the wrist or altogether scot-free.
The ensuing legal anomaly led MK Tzipi Livni – when she served as justice minister in the previous government – to push for clearer legislation. Livni formulated the amendment that only now passed its final parliamentary hurdles – under the aegis of Livni’s successor, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
Shaked declared: “Leniency toward terrorists stops today. A stone-thrower is a terrorist and only appropriate punishment can serve as deterrence.”
The new law won across-the-broad Knesset support except from Meretz and Arab MKs. The latter pugnaciously attacked the bill and sparked bitter clashes in the plenum.
The Joint List issued an official statement charging that “this legislation is racist and unconstitutional. Its sole purpose is to repress the Palestinians’ struggle, their civic, popular and legitimate protest.” MKs Jamal Zahalka, Haneen Zoabi and Ahmad Tibi shouted abuse at the security forces.
Pandemonium broke out when Deputy Knesset Speaker Hilik Bar (Zionist Union), who presided over the session, retorted: “It’s all right for you to criticize IDF soldiers, but just remember that it’s thanks to them that we can debate here. Just as they protect me, they protect you too in the jungle of the Middle East.”
The ensuing Knesset chaos must not be casually trivialized.
We have become inured to escalating provocation from Israel’s Arab parliamentarians who compete zealously with one another to see who can thumb his/her nose at Israel more brazenly. The faint line between valid dissent and siding with the state’s implacable enemies has long ago been blurred beyond restoration.
But seemingly nothing is more galling than justifying attacks on innocent travelers merely because the weapon of choice is not a firearm. “Cold” projectiles too can kill and they have too many tragic times.
Moreover, these projectiles are not necessarily pebbles, though size should not count here. Often large rocks are hurled, heavy cement blocks and even outright boulders. This is nothing that ought to be condoned and misrepresented as “civic, popular and legitimate protest.”
Stones, rocks, blocks and boulders all kill.
Back in 2000, in the second intifada, Bechor Zhan, traveling with his brother south from Haifa on the Coastal Highway (inside Israel proper), was murdered by rock-throwing Jisr a-Zarka youths.
Five-month-old Yehuda Shoham’s skull was crushed by rocks tossed in 2001.
Young father Asher Palmer and his infant son Yonatan were killed in 2011 when their car was pelted with stones.
Last February, four-year-old Adele Biton died after two agonizing years in which she lay semi-comatose following a March 2013 stoning attack. Arab terrorists hurled rocks at the family car driven by Adele’s mother, Adva. Its passengers were Adva’s three young daughters. As the vehicle passed near Ariel, a hail of rocks caused it to crash. All its occupants were wounded.
Adele’s fate was worst. A fist-sized rock struck her directly in the head. Somehow, against all odds, doctors kept her just barely alive until five months ago.
Stoning attacks claimed many more lives over the years and they are ongoing and rampant.
On Wednesday, rocks were thrown at border police stationed in the Mount of Olives cemetery. The officers identified the rock-thrower as an eight-year-old boy.
Evidently, none of this perturbs Arab MKs who stridently incite against the state that bankrolls them and guarantees their rights to subvert it. They’d do well, however, to recall that sometimes stones injure and kill Israeli Arabs too – when they’re mistaken for Jews.
Nobody is immune when private and public transport is targeted