Palestinian Boy Acquitted of 'Attack' After Throwing Empty Soda Can Toward Jews

12:00 Aug 26 2022 Jerusalem District: Juvenile Court

Palestinian Boy Acquitted of 'Attack' After Throwing Empty Soda Can Toward Jews
Damascus Gate, Jerusalem, in May. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg Published by Haaretz

The indictment claimed that the 15-year-old Palestinian had thrown an empty soda can, which didn't hit anybody, at two ultra-Orthodox Jews who were walking toward Jerusalem's Damascus Gate

by Yael Freidson for Haaretz
Aug 25, 2022
8:59 pm IDT

Jerusalem's Juvenile Court acquitted a 15-year-old Palestinian on Friday of charges of aggravated assault after allegedly throwing an empty soda can in the direction of two ultra-Orthodox Jewish youths.

The minor, who had no criminal record, was filmed two years ago apparently throwing the empty soda can toward the two youths, but the can fell to the ground without hurting anyone.

According to the indictment, the boy saw the two youths walking toward the Old City's Damascus Gate, chased after them and threw a can he had found on the street at them. The minor’s defense attorney, Fares Mustafa Ali of the Public Defender’s Office, asserted that his client hadn’t noticed the youths, and was playing with the empty can on his way home in Jerusalem’s Old City. The incident was filmed by nearby security cameras, but the two sides differed over interpretation of the clips.

Magistrate Judge Ekaterina Tsvetkov Dorfman acquitted the boy based on reasonable doubt. “The complainants’ feelings are insufficient to determine the nature of the defendant’s acts during the incident,” she wrote. “It is impossible to ignore that the accusers’ feelings were affected by the time and place, and the built-in fear of being at Damascus Gate late at night. The complainants felt a certain confusion after watching the film clips and felt sorry in parts of the videos in which the acts of the accused precisely did not match the actions of an attempted assault.”

Ali, the defendant’s attorney, commented: “He asserted from the first moment, starting with his interrogation, that he didn’t mean any harm to anyone. We welcome the decision of the court, which accepted our position time and again. The youth [in question] is a normal kid with no criminal background who recently finished his studies with excellent marks.”

The prosecution appealed against the acquittal to the District Court, but the appeal was denied two months ago. The ruling was only permitted for publication on Friday.

The three-judge panel on the District Court – Dana Cohen-Lekach, David Gideoni and Einat Avman-Muller – heard the prosecution’s appeal and upheld the acquittal.

“Regarding the concrete circumstances of the case – the object at hand is a lightweight, an empty soda can, and the defendant threw the can from a distance under circumstances cast raise reasonable doubt on his motive," the ruling said, adding that "Given the unique circumstances of the case, the goal of causing physical harm is neither clear no unequivocal from the behavior of the defendant and the material presented in court."

On Thursday, the Jerusalem district prosecutor filed an indictment against three minors between the ages of 14 and 16 for committing a hate crime against four ultra-Orthodox Jews a week earlier. The indictment alleges that the suspects taunted the four and then punched and kicked them. One of the suspects is also accused of attacking two others, who filed complaints against him as well, on the same day.
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