The Knesset on Monday evening approved the second and third readings of a bill that toughens the punishment handed out to rock throwers. 69 MKs voted in favor of the bill, while 17 voted against.
The law stipulates that the offense of obstructing an officer by throwing rocks or other objects is punishable by five years in prison. The law also establishes a hierarchy of punishment for offenses involving the throwing of rocks or other objects at a vehicle in motion.
MK Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home), chairman of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, introduced the bill at the discussion and said, "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.”
Slomiansky noted that rock-throwing “endangers human life and sows fear among the public, and we must act aggressively to eradicate it. The courts give very light punishments in relation to the penalties set by the legislature even in the most serious cases, and the legislature must render assistance to law enforcement agencies, and convey an unequivocal message on this issue.”
Arutz Sheva has frequently reported about rock attacks, which have become frequent occurrences in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria in recent years, but are ignored by most mainstream news outlets.
Such rock attacks can be lethal and are often carried out by terrorists with that intention. An example of this occurred just a week ago, when a Jewish couple narrowly averted death when terrorists threw rocks at their car as it was travelling in central Israel, on Highway 6 that crosses Israel from north to south.
During the debate on the law on Monday, Arab MKs from the Joint Arab List voiced strong objections to the bill.
"Imagine that we bring before a judge a person who threw rocks and a person who made them throw rocks,” MK Jamal Zahalka said. “Who will the judge put in jail? The person who destroyed the home, expropriated the land, killed the brother, or the boy who threw a rock [in response]? You pick on a person who responds to major injustices – what hypocrisy. Those who destroy homes get a medal but the child that whose anger is justified is penalized. There is no justice in this bill.”
MK Hanin Zoabi attacked the law as well, using the opportunity to lash out at IDF soldiers.
“We are not talking about a law, we are talk about the occupation,” she charged. “If the law is supposed to protect the weak then it should protect those victims who are killed every week by soldiers, it should protect those who are under threat and the danger of occupation, [it should protect those threatened] by a soldier chasing Palestinians boys in the streets. Imagine a soldier with a rifle in front of a boy with a small stone, is there a symmetry there? If anything, you should worsen the penalty against those who fire the bullets that kill every day. Start counting the dead Palestinians. It is the duty of the oppressed to expel the oppressors.”
Following the debate and the passing of the law, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) welcomed the move, saying, "Today, justice was served. For years, terrorists avoided punishment and responsibility. Tolerance towards terrorists stops today. He who throws rocks is a terrorist, and only appropriate punishment could serve as a deterrent.”
Deputy Defense Minister, Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home), welcomed the passing of the law as well, saying, "Rocks kill and rock throwing is a terrorist act, so the Knesset did well tonight in approving stricter punishments for throwing rocks. Now the burden of proof is on the judges who should make proper use of the law.”
Former Justice Minister MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) joined those who welcomed the new law.
"While rocks were thrown this evening at the Jerusalem light rail a few miles from the Knesset, the plenum approved the law toughening the punishment for throwing rocks, which I initiated as Justice Minister due to the worsening violence and terrorism in Jerusalem after Operation Protective Edge,” said Livni.
“I congratulate Justice Minister Shaked who continued the work and welcome the law being passed in the Knesset. The security and law enforcement systems were given more tools today in the fight against terrorism and violence,” she added.