For Second Time Only in Israel, Prison for Poacher

Four months jail sentence for East Jerusalem goldfinch poacher marks second time illegal hunting offense met with such measure.

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A prison sentence has been imposed on a poacher, only the second time a court has taken such action against illegal hunting since the law prohibiting it was passed in 1955.

The Katzrin Magistrate’s Court sentenced Ayad Sleima, from East Jerusalem, to four months behind bars for poaching goldfinches.

Four years ago, Israel Nature and Parks Authority rangers caught Sleima and a friend, Jalal Natche, after they had caught 35 finches near Kursi, on the eastern side of the Kinneret. Sleima received the unusually severe penalty, which came following a plea bargain approved yesterday by Judge Mordechai Nadel, because he had four previous convictions for poaching goldfinches.

The first severe sentence for this offense was imposed in October by the Haifa District Court, which sent a porcupine poacher to prison for seven months.
The offender in that case, Rami Pahmawi, also had several strikes against him for poaching.

Goldfinches are a favorite prey of poachers in the north. They are then mated with canaries to create a mixed species called a banduk (“bastard” in Arabic) that combines the beauty of the goldfinch with the canary’s melodious song. Such a bird can sell for as much as NIS 10,000.

To catch the finches, the poachers use another finch as bait, after pulling out its feathers or breaking its leg. They place it on a net and when other finches are attracted to the alarm sounded by the injured bird, they are trapped in the net.

A banduk (L) and a goldfinch (R).Credit: Itzik Ben Malki