Proposed gov’t legislation seeks to toughen sentences for rock throwers

New law will allow conviction without a need to ‘prove intent to harm’ car or passengers and 5 years for throwing a rock at a police officer or his vehicle – interfering in the carrying out of his duty.


The government is attempting to make it easier to convict suspects of throwing rocks at passing cars as well as stiffening the sentence for the crime. A draft of a new law that was circulated on Sunday by the Justice Ministry would make it possible to convict and punish the violators even if the state cannot prove they intended to damage cars or injure passengers. In addition, the proposed law would for the first time allow the conviction of those who throw rocks at police cars.

Silwan Palestinian throwing stones Reuters July 27, 2010

Palestinian youths throwing stones at Israeli border police vehicles during clashes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan in 2010 – Photo: Reuters

The bill is based on the recommendations of a committee headed by Cabinet Secretary Avihai Mandelblit, which examined how to deal with the security situation in East Jerusalem.

Under existing law, the state must prove intent to cause harm, or base its case on other laws in order to convict rock throwers.

The new draft law states that the crime of throwing rocks at cars will be divided into two categories of offenses: The basic degree, for which the punishment is 10 years in prison, will outlaw throwing rocks or other objects at vehicles in motion in a way that could endanger the safety of a person in the vehicle or someone nearby. The more serious offense, for which the punishment will be up to 20 years in prison, would be for those who are convicted of also intending to cause a person serious bodily harm, by throwing rocks or other objects at vehicles.

The proposed law would also introduce a new offense: Throwing a rock or other object at a police vehicle or a police officer with the intention of interfering in the carrying out of his duty. The punishment in such cases would be 5 years in prison.

Today rock throwers are convicted on the basis of other offenses, such as attacking a police officer, intentionally damaging a vehicle, or attempting to commit one of these or various other crimes. Today’s law also sets a maximum of 20 years in prison for throwing rocks at vehicles while they are moving, if the state can prove the defendant acted intentionally to damage the vehicle.

In cases in which rocks were thrown by a group of demonstrators, the courts have often found it difficult to determine whether the stone thrower intended to cause damage to the vehicle that was hit.


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