Israeli Court Acquits Palestinian Stone-thrower of Attempted Murder

Even though woman hit with rock suffered brain hemorrhage, Israeli military court finds insufficient evidence to show intent to kill or ‘high likelihood’ of death; convicts defendant on lesser charge of causing serious injury.

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to throw a stone towards Israeli security forces during clashes in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near Nablus in the West Bank, on August 21, 2015.Credit: AFP
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

A military court has acquitted a Palestinian of attempted murder even though he took part in the stoning of an Israeli car that resulted in the severe injury of a woman. The court ruled there was insufficient evidence to show that the stoning was “highly likely” to cause death, and convicted Ali Hamamra of the lesser charge of causing serious injury in the 2012 West Bank incident.  

The ruling was handed down last month by judges Rani Amar, Menachem Lieberman and Sigal Turjeman, but only released on Tuesday. 

Hamamra and four others were arrested for throwing stones at cars near the Beitar Illit settlement during the November 2012 Gaza war. A woman in a car, Ziona Kala, suffered a brain hemorrhage and broken jaw when a rock hit her.   

Hamamra was charged with attempted murder as well as other security offenses. His lawyer claimed he did not intend to kill anyone with the stones he threw. 

Amar, an Ofer Military Court judge, wrote in the ruling that there “isn’t enough evidence” to indicate that Hamamra’s actions were “highly likely” to result in death.

According to Amar, the stone-throwers took into account that their actions might result in death, but there was no proof they wanted to kill anyone. Hamamra “acted out of apathy toward the outcome of death,” the judge wrote.

Amar noted that the defendants’ testimonies indicated that they chose to do what they did because they were bored, which does not amount to a “planned ambush.” 

The judge asserted that if the defendants had wanted to kill Kala, they would have continued to throw stones at her after her car had stopped.

Amar further rejected the prosecution’s claim that the defendants’ throwing stones at many cars showed they sought to cause fatalities.

“I don’t disagree that throwing stones at a moving vehicle can cause a car accident,” he wrote. “But a car accident is just one of the possibilities, and is not a highly likely possibility. Moreover, the occurrence of a car accident doesn’t necessarily lead to death.  

“Therefore, even though the possibility exists,” it does not unequivocally prove the intention of murder, the judge wrote.

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