The Knesset on Monday enacted minimum prison terms for rock-throwing attacks against vehicles or pedestrians.
In a vote of 51 to 17, lawmakers approved a series of amendments to Israel’s Criminal Law, raising the minimum prison sentence for rock throwing to three years. Among the law’s provisions, parents of a minor imprisoned for rock throwing will now be denied state benefits for the minor for the period of the incarceration.
The law was passed as a “temporary provision” that must be renewed by the Knesset in three years’ time.
“Setting minimum sentences is an extraordinary step,” the bill’s own explanatory preface says. “But the uniqueness of the [rock-throwing] phenomenon and its scale, which have expanded of late, justify as an extraordinary measure the establishment of minimum punishments in this case as a temporary provision,” it states.
The minimum sentences are meant “to create deterrence,” said Jewish Home MK Nissan Slomiansky, chair of the Knesset’s Constitution Law and Justice Committee.
“Throwing a stone is attempted murder, and it is appropriate that it has a minimum sentence,” he said, railing against the assumption of ‘It’s just a rock.’”
The law also strips parents of a minor imprisoned for rock throwing of welfare grants and other benefits linked to the minor for the duration of the incarceration.
The law was criticized by Arab lawmakers.
“You can’t quench a fire with diesel fuel,” Joint (Arab) List MK Jamal Zahalka said. “This law is fuel on the fire.”
Zahalka also railed against the cancellation of some benefits for the parents of imprisoned minors. “There is no logic to punishing a father whose son threw a stone and didn’t hit anything, while the father of a child who stabs his friend in school goes unpunished.”
The law gives judges discretion to cancel the minimum sentence in “extraordinary circumstances.”