Palestinian Convicted of Murder in Stone-throwing Attack on Settler and Infant Son

Arja was found guilty by the Ofer Military Court of hurling stones at Palmer’s car, striking Palmer, 25, in the face, and causing him to lose control of his vehicle.

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Waal al-Arja of Halhoul was convicted on Tuesday of murdering settler Asher Palmer and his 1-year-old son in a stone-throwing attack in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba in September 2011.

Arja was found guilty by the Ofer Military Court of hurling stones at Palmer’s car, striking Palmer, 25, in the face, and causing him to lose control of his vehicle. The car subsequently swerved and overturned, and he and his son were killed upon impact.

Arja, who threw the stones from his own car, is believed to have been aided by an accomplice named Ali Saada.

Judge Maj. Amir Dahan said that while it’s rare that stone-throwers are convicted of murder, in Arja’s case the prosecution proved that he had the intent and means to kill.

He noted that not every incident of stone-throwing can or is meant to kill. Every case must be judged individually in terms of the type of stones, the amount of force, the distance from which the stone was thrown, and the sensitivity of the target, Dahan said.

In this case, he wrote, “We’re not talking about a minor or someone whose judgment is faulty. This is an experienced, level-headed adult.”

Dahan added that Arja and his alleged accomplice “hurled two stones at the same time at the same car, a number of times, and couldn’t not see or understand that the chance of injury was very high.”

Saada’s trial is continuing.

Asher Palmer’s father, Michael, and other family members were present in court when Arja was convicted.

“Today justice was done,” said Michael Palmer. “This was the hardest year and a half of my life.”

A memorial march for Asher and Yonatan Palmer. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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