Rock terror

The Knesset passed a new law stating that those responsible for throwing rocks will face harsher punishment.

A bill to increase the punishment of rock throwing terrorists became law in Israel on Monday when the Knesset voted to approve the draft.

The bill, proposed by former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and promoted and finalized by current Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, passed with 69 Members of Knesset (MK) voting in favor and 17 against.

The law is intended to address incidents to which previous legislation did not pertain, such as throwing rocks at public transportation or at police vehicles. The previous law stated that a prosecutor must provide proof of the assailant’s intent to cause harm in order for the terrorist to receive the maximum sentence prescribed by law – 20 years in prison.

In practice, such intent is difficult to prove legally, and so terrorists have been receiving a much lighter sentence of about two years. The new law places the onus on the rock-thrower to prove there was no nefarious intent.

The amendment cites that an offender could be sentenced to 10 years in prison without requiring the prosecutor to prove intent to cause harm.

“Tolerance towards terrorists ends today,” Shaked announced after the bill was passed. Noting that over 1,000 indictments are handed down against rock-throwers annually, she said the new law will elevate the level of sentences given to the terrorists.

“A rock-thrower is a terrorist, and only an appropriate punishment will serve as a deterring, punishing and just element,” Shaked stated.

Several Arab MKs vigorously opposed the bill, saying it was a travesty of justice that ignored the real problem – Israel’s so-called “occupation,” which in their view justified murder or attempted murder.

“Anyone who throws rocks at people and cars needs to assume that someone will be hurt,” Shaked stated earlier on this year, “A rock can kill.”

MK Nissan Slomiansky, Chairman of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, who introduced the bill, said that “David killed Goliath, the strongest Philistine, using a rock. In other words: rocks kill. Hundreds of cases involving such crimes are discussed in the courts. The legislature must render assistance to law enforcement agencies, and convey an unequivocal message on this issue.”

While most rock-throwing incidents end with property damage only, many times the rocks have injured or killed innocent Israeli civilians. In March 2013, for example, three-year-old Adele Biton was severely wounded by rock-throwing terrorists. She died 18 months later.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel