When the stones fly the wrong way

Settlers threw a stone, and then another one, at a Palestinian’s head. Then they killed his sheep. The chances they will be indicted for attempted murder are slim.

By Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz

When the stones fly the wrong way
A masked Jewish settler uses a slingshot to throw stones at Palestinians [illustrative photo] (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
At the beginning of March, K., a Palestinian resident of the village of Al Mughayer, took his herd to pasture. As readers of this blog may have noticed, many of the incidents reported here take place in pasture lands; it’s a part of the attempt by the settlers to prevent Palestinians from working their land or grazing it. As soon as the Palestinians abandon the land as a result of the terror campaign (the Israeli government at best does not hinder, and at worst, quietly supports the settlers), begins a process ends with the settlers taking over the land.

K. said he encountered a group of about 10 men, who he thought were settlers. They were not hooded. Another person at the scene, Y., noted that some of the settlers were armed; Y. is certain he can identify them.

The settlers began throwing stones at K., hit him in the head, and he collapsed. Y. saw them approaching K. and throwing another stone at his head, even after he fell. This shouldn’t be surprising: a similar incident was documented in June, 2005 (Hebrew). Settlers threw one stone after the other at the head of an unconscious Palestinian boy, while IDF soldiers on the scene did little. This incident, noted mostly because it was captured on film, caused some outrage at the time; then, as usual, it was forgotten. Israelis are good at forgetting such incidents.

Y. rushed to help K., since he feared for the latter’s life. As a result, he says, the settlers began stoning him too. He retreated and the settlers used the opportunity to try and drive some of his sheep towards Adei Ad, an outpost adjacent to the pasture land. Some of them preferred killing the sheep: one of the settlers threw stones at the heads of the sheep, while another slaughtered some with a blade. Some of K.’s sheep were stabbed to death; some of Y.’s were wounded by stones, and may die.

The villagers rapidly reached the scene. K. was evacuated to a hospital, and a scuffle broke out between the pogromchiks and the Palestinian residents. As soon as police arrived, the settlers fled. It should be noted that when the police and the IDF reached the scene, they used tear gas and other crowd-dispersal weapons – against the Palestinians, of course. Some of them were hurt.

About two weeks ago, Israel was enraged when a brave military judge, Amir Dahan, ruled that throwing stones is not necessarily attempted murder. He chose to convict the Palestinians arraigned before him of stone-throwing, and not with the inflated charge of attempted murder, as submitted by the military prosecution. For the judge’s trouble, he was publicly reprimanded by a brigade commander, who has probably never heard of the principle of independence of the military justice system (Hebrew).

Throwing stones can indeed in some cases, for instance, when a person is lying down and a hoodlum is throwing stones at his head, be considered attempted murder. We can rest assured, however, the Shai District Police will manage to botch this investigation as well. In this, there is certainly experience.

Written by Yossi Gurvitz in his capacity as a blogger for Yesh Din, Volunteers for Human Rights. A version of this post was first published on Yesh Din’s blog.

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