Night Court

Every three months or so, it falls to my lot to be the Duty Prosecutor over the weekend. As Fate would have it, my turn came round this last Friday – the day when the “political tsumani” was supposed to strike and the IDF and Israel Police were braced for widespread rioting throughout Judaea and Samaria, as well as East Jerusalem and possibly in Israeli Arab towns and villages. In the event, Friday was suspiciously quiet with only one appearance in court, of a car thief from the Hebron area who hadn’t been able to make bail – principally because he hadn’t been able to find even one person ready to vouch for him!

Motza’ei Shabbat, on the other hand, was a different matter. Usually, I am notified by late afternoon if there is business which requires my attendance in court. This time, however, it was not until 15 minutes after the end of the Sabbath, that the phone call came.  We had a fourteen and a half year old house-breaker who had been placed in a juvenile remand home in Acco (Acre)  last month. Less than a week later, he had absconded and on Friday afternoon, was located wandering around in Jerusalem. Besides violating the terms of his bail, he was wanted by Acco police for forcibly sodomizing a fellow inmate at the remand home. A delightful kid, no?

Anyway, I got to the courthouse at about 9pm – only to discover that serious technical problems with their computers were slowing down the opening of case files to such an extent that it wasn’t until 10.35pm that I was finally able to enter the courtroom with the new file. I then had to wait till the Duty Judge finished hearing the case before mine – an inquest request in which the family of the deceased were petitioning for the release of the bodies for immediate burial (in accordance with Jewish religious law) and the Police wanted to carry out autopsies (frowned upon by said Jewish law).

I mention this, because of the circumstances surrounding their deaths. They were a 25-year old father, Asher Hillel Palmer and his 8-month old baby son, Yehonatan. They were killed on Friday, near the  village of Halhul when, it is suspected,  their car was stoned by Palestinians, causing it to veer off the road and crash into a stone fence, where it somersaulted twice in the air before landing, upside down, 80 metres away and broke up almost completely. Father and baby didn’t have a chance. The only question seems to be, were their skulls  smashed by the crash itself or by the stones thrown by Palestinians. In either case, we would be dealing with murder.

The court actually ruled in favour of the family, but the Police asked for a stay of execution, in order to appeal to a higher court. It was granted – for one hour only. As my own business, once the hearing started, took all of five minutes, I do not know what was the final outcome and whether the young father and his baby son have been buried yet, or not.

May G-d avenge their blood.


About Shimona from the Palace

Born in London, the UK, I came on Aliyah in my teens and now live in Jerusalem, where I practice law. I am a firm believer in the words of Albert Schweitzer: "There are two means of refuge from the sorrows of this world - Music and Cats." To that, you can add Literature. To curl up on the sofa with a good book, a cat at one's feet and another one on one's lap, with a classical symphony or concerto in the background - what more can a person ask for?
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9 Responses to Night Court

  1. Patricia says:

    Will there ever be an end to it?…

  2. Post Scriptum: Sunday 4.30 pm
    It is now believed that the the fatal stone was thrown from a passing car, driving in the opposite direction, rather than by Palestinian terrorists on foot. As such, the velocity of the stone would be greatly increased and its impact with the human skull would be deadly.

  3. Why did the family not want an autopsy? Do they WANT the murderers to get away with it?

    • These are orthodox Jews. Generally speaking, autopsies are prohibited by Jewish law. And the family believes that the evidence of a big stone in the car is sufficient proof. After all, even if the cause of death was the car crash caused by throwing a rock through the windscreen, without the rock smashing the driver’s skull, it would still be murder. Knowing that the rock itself was the cause of death wouldn’t make it any easier to catch the murderers.

      • Silke says:

        But it might make it easier to convict the murderer(s) to a hopefully very extended sentence.

        Otherwise a smart lawyer might argue that only a little mischief was intended, at least that is how it might happen in the courts of Germany.

      • Shalom, Silke. Welcome to my blog. Come on in and make yourself at home :-).
        As to the smart lawyer – even if it was proved that the driver was killed by the rock, rather than the crash, the lawyer could try to argue that his client only intended a little mischief. “Your Honour, my client only intended to cause the car to crash, he didn’t mean for the rock to smash the driver’s skull.”
        The law in Israel is that a person is considered as intending the obvious, logical result of his actions. The courts have also recognised that a rock is a deadly weapon. It therefore follows that a person hurling a rock through the front windscreen of a car intended for it to strike the driver, so it would make no legal difference whether the force of the blow from the rock actually killed him, or whether it caused him to lose control of the car, resulting in a fatal accident.

        At least that is how it might happen in the courts of Germany.”
        Are you thinking of an actual case in Germany where such a thing happened?

    • Silke says:

      hi Shimona,

      thanks for welcoming me

      Actually we had a number of cases of rock throwing in Germany in pre-Internet or Internet in its infancy times. Those were kids/youngsters who went on bridges crossing the streets and/or autobahns and throwing stones/bricks/woodblocks from there. As it always happens in such cases there were imitators and I think at least one person got killed. And as best I remember the mischief-argument was made and they got of lightly but that may have been because they were under age.

      At the time it was so much in the news that one started to feel uneasy whenever one had to drive under one of those. I don’t know whether it stopped by itself or whether bridges got fences preventing such mischief. I don’t live in the part of Germany any longer where there were lots of bridges so I can’t check.

      Currently I keep reading about attacks in subways with severe and even deadly consequences and there the non-intent argument is made.

      All in all I was amazed to learn that Jews who have such a well-earned reputation for being great doctors have some in their midst who object to autopsies.

      • About the bridges – curiously enough, as I remember it, the 2nd intifada started with rocks thrown from a bridge near an Israeli Arab village, hitting the driver of a moving car and killing him.

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