Itongadol.- Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is promoting legislation aimed at giving harsher punishment to stone-throwers, without having to provide proof the accused intended to harm anyone.
Shaked\’s first bill proposal: Harsher punishment for stone throwers
Shaked\’s first piece of legislation since entering the Justice Ministry will be brought to vote on Sunday at the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.
The objective of the legislation – which was previously proposed by Tzipi Livni but did not pass – is to provide legal tools to handle situations the current legislation does not cover, like stone-throwing at vehicles or police cars without the need to prove intention to harm.
A team headed by the government secretary discussed the issue before in an attempt to deal with a phenomenon which first started in East Jerusalem and has since spread to other places, necessitating changes to existing legislation.
In her proposal, Shaked will seek to reduce the large gap that exists between the penalty prescribed by the law, which is currently 20 years in prison, and the very light punishment provided in practice because of the difficulty in proving intent to harm – as required by the current law.
About a thousand indictments are served every year against stone-throwers, but the difficulty in proving the rioter\’s intent to cause damage is in many cases a factor in the minor penalties given, if at all.
Shaked plans to add a new kind of offense to the law, which would prohibit the throwing of a stone or an object not only with the intention to cause harm, but also in order to interfere with or impede a police officer from performing his duties. A new threshold will be set that does not require proving intent to cause harm, and the punishment for such an offense will be up to 10 years in prison.
"The particular mental element of intent to harm a passenger or a vehicle, or endanger the passenger\’s safety, which is required today, does not provide a solution to cases of stone throwing without that particular intention," the explanatory notes to the bill state.
"For example, when stone throwing is done as part of general rioting, the required mental element does not necessarily exist in all of the rioters. The maximum penalty for the offense, 20 years imprisonment, is inappropriate in cases where throwing stones can cause damage or endanger the safety of others, but does not include this strict mental element of intent on the part of the perpetrator."
The proposal states that the difference between the actual light punishments that are given by the courts and the maximum penalty prescribed by the law proves the need for new legislative levels to suit the circumstances in which the stone-throwing took place.
Often, the proposal states, there have been situations in which stones were thrown at police vehicles traveling at slow speed when the passengers were unharmed, and this was done in defiance of the police\’s very presence in a particular area. It was difficult to attribute the mental element required by the law to these stone throwers – the intention to cause harm.
On the other hand, the existing offense of disturbing a policeman in the line of duty does not provide an appropriate response in Shaked\’s opinion, in terms of the severity of the punishment.
Due to that, the new bill includes two key amendments. The first is an article that determines a new type of offense prohibiting the throwing of stones or objects at a police officer or vehicle in order to interrupt or undermine police work.
This article will impose harsher punishment than in other circumstances of interfering with police work. The punishment according to the new proposal will be the same as attacking a policeman under aggravated circumstances, even if the initial intent of causing harm was not proven.
The second amendment proposes to cancel the requirement to provide proof of intention and replace it with a two-tiered type of offense: The basic level, which prohibits stone or object throwing in a way that could endanger the safety of passengers in vehicles or anyone in the vicinity. The second level would include a more stringent punishment of 20 years in prison, which would include the requirement to prove intention to cause harm