A homeless man from Tel Aviv convicted of attacking a protester who participated in a demonstration against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv in October was sentenced to prison for 11 and a half months following a plea bargain agreement, marking the second time that someone has been convicted for attacking anti-Netanyahu protesters since the weekly demonstrations began last summer.
The man, Sergey Haim, pleaded guilty to the crime of “assaulting an elderly person and causing substantial injury.” Haim was drunk when he arrived at the protest site, began to shout at the demonstrators, complaining that they were keeping him awake, and proceeded to punch one of them. When the victim tried to protect his head using his hands, Haim injured the man’s arm with his fingernails.
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Judge Ronit Poznanski-Katz of the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court approved the plea bargain, noting that the victim also agreed to the deal and had forgiven Haim, who since the incident occurred has remained in jail as he was unable to find a suitable alternative.
Four of the 11 and a half months of Haim's prison term constitute a reinstatement of a previously issued suspended sentence. In addition to the prison sentence, Haim was sentenced to six months probation, to expire in three years. Before the protest incident, Haim had previously spent months in jail for threats and assaults.
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This is the second time that someone has been convicted for attacking anti-Netanyahu protesters. In October, a homeless man with a background of mental health difficulties became the first Israeli to be sentenced to jail for assaulting anti-Netanyahu protesters at a demonstration in Haifa in August. While intoxicated, Dennis Putodinsky hurled stones at protesters before assaulting and threatening police officers, at a demonstration. He was given an eight month prison term, which was suspended by four month.
The indictment against Haim was filed a few days after the incident, along with two other indictments filed against protesters, following media pressure in the wake of a steep incline in attacks against the protesters.