Militant Jewish Extremist Charged With Assault and Avoiding Court

Three years after far-right activist Baruch Marzel was charged with assaulting a Palestinian, the court case stalledpartly because he didn't show up for hearings

Olivier Fitoussi

Three years after far-right activist Baruch Marzel was charged with assaulting a Palestinian, the court case has stalled — in part because Marzel has simply not shown up for hearings.

On February 16, 2015 the Israel Police filed an indictment against Marzel for attacking Palestinian Issa Amru in Amru’s home in Hebron. The indictment described an incident that had taken place two years earlier, in February 2013. According to the indictment, Marzel entered Amru’s courtyard in Hebron on his way to prayers.

For a reason unknown to the plaintiff, Marzel, entered Amru’s courtyard. When he and some guests who were drinking tea with him asked Marzel to leave, Marzel punched Amru in the face and later kicked him in the leg twice. Marzel was accused of criminal trespassing and assault.

But five years later, the legal proceeding hasn’t progressed. Marzel repeatedly refrained from reporting to court sessions, which were repeatedly postponed.

On July 30 , 2015 Marzel arrived for the first court session and was told the date of the next one, but failed to show up. Judge Shmuel Herbst ordered Marzel be arrested,with bail set at 300 shekels.

The police was negligent about implementing the order. When Marzel didn’t report on March 10, 2016 the court extended the writ.

Marzel deposited 300 shekels to avoid arrest, but failed to attend the next session on July 14, 2016. The judge decided that the 300-shekel deposit would be confiscated, since the defendant knew the date but decided not to come. The court again ordered Marzel’s arrest, this time adding that he could be released on bail of 1,300 shekels.

But again the police failed to issue the warrant for arrest. In November 16 there was a session attended only by the plaintiff’s lawyer. .

On May 25, 2017 Marzel arrived in court. He promised to attend the court sessions and requested a public defender, which he was granted.

In July 2017 the court convened again and the defendant’s attorney asked for another postponement in order to receive the investigative materials. In November 2017 Marzel switched lawyers. Marzel’s new representative, attorney Itzhak Bam, told the court that Marzel hadn’t come because he was ill. Attorney Michal Pasovsky, who represents Amru on behalf of the NGO, Yesh Din, said: “The inconceivable contempt of the defendant towards the Israeli law enforcement systems is nothing new, but worse is the fact that the court and the prosecution of the Judea and Samaria District ignored the defendant’s open disdain If it were a Palestinian defendant he would have been arrested on the spot until the conclusion of proceedings,” she said.

Attorney Bam told Haaretz: “The case began with a provocation by Mr. Amru and his friends, who threw stones at Mr. Marzel. The police realized that it was a provocation by Issa Amru and closed the case, but reopened it under pressure of the New Israel Fund,” said Bam, referring to the liberal NGO that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed recently for sabotaging a deal with Uganda to accept asylum seekers.

“We are of course determined to let the truth come to light and to prosecute the provocateur Issa Amru, and using all the tools that the law places at our disposal. Naturally, that takes time,” said Marzel’s lawyer.

The Israel Police responsed that “With the conclusion of the investigation the accused was indicted for trespassing and assault. Since then the defendant has been evasive, first by his absence and afterwards by requests for postponements by his representative.

“In light of the fact that he failed to report for the first sessions a writ of habeas corpus was issued and his deposits were confiscated, until the defendant reported to the court about a year ago.

“Since then the judicial proceeding is still going on in the court and it continues due to the requests to the court by the defendant’s representative.”