A Beersheba district judge’s car was set ablaze Wednesday morning in what police suspect was an attempt to intimidate elements of the legal system, law enforcement officials said.
“This is an unusual, extreme and serious act,” Southern District Police Commander Yoram Halevi said. “Every attack or threat against the rule of law and justice is a serious and dangerous escalation, and we are dedicating all available resources to solving the case.”
Judge Naser Abu Taha, whose car was targeted in the incident, is the first Bedouin district judge and has a reputation for valuing justice and education, according to a report by news outlet NRG.
Attorney Chen Avitan, a senior official in the Beersheba legal system, called attempts to intimidate judges a “red line,” and Supreme Court President Asher Grunis called on police to prioritize the investigation into the torching.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said Abu Taha assured her that the incident would not deter him from doing his job. She added that the state is working to give law enforcement more tools to fight organized crime.
Abu Taha grew up in a home of 15 children and went to study law in Italy after his application was rejected by Hebrew University. He finished his PhD in law in 1991.
He made history in 1993 by becoming the first Bedouin state’s attorney, and rose to district judge in 2012.
If this is indeed an intimidation attempt by criminal elements, it would not be unprecedented. In January, two envelopes containing bullets and a threatening letter were sent to a district court judge and a senior officer in the Israel Prison Service over the course of a week.
In November, a car bomb destroyed the vehicle of a senior prosecutor in the Central District State Attorney’s Office in Tel Aviv. No one was hurt in the explosion.
Adiv Sterman and Haviv Rettig Gur contributed to this report.