Charge against Palestinian stabber bumped up to attempted murder after petition

Charge against Palestinian stabber bumped up to attempted murder after petition

Military court overturns earlier decision to convict Hebron resident of aggravated assault and concludes that he intended to kill Israeli, though he stabbed her only once

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Hamza Faiz appears at the Ofer Military Court, on July 16, 2018. (Screen capture/Ynet)
Hamza Faiz appears at the Ofer Military Court, on July 16, 2018. (Screen capture/Ynet)

A military appeals court on Monday accepted a petition filed by the military prosecution to harshen the sentence of a Palestinian man who stabbed an Israeli woman in the West Bank in 2015.

Military Appeals Court President Judge Col. Netanel Benisho convicted Hamza Faiz of the attempted murder of Nirit Zamora, upping the aggravated assault sentence that had been handed down in April 2018.

At that time, the Judea Military Court had concluded that it was not possible to prove that Faiz intended to murder Zamora when he knifed her in the back at the  Gush Etzion Junction on October 28, 2015.

Zamora survived the incident, after being rushed to the hospital with the knife still lodged in her back.

Nirit Zamora gives a video statement outside the Ofer Military Court on October 10, 2019. (Screen capture/Honenu)

The mother of eight had been in the parking lot of the Rami Levy supermarket when the Palestinian resident of Hebron ran at her while shouting “Allahu Akbar.” He only managed to stab her once from behind because the handle of his knife broke.

The judges used this fact to argue that it was impossible to prove whether Faiz would have stabbed Zamora, a resident of the Beit Haggai settlement, again. They also pointed to the fact that he stabbed her in the back and not in the chest with a relatively short knife (4.7 inches, or about 12 centimeters, long) to argue that he may have sought only to injure her.

Zamora expressed her deep frustration with the military court decision, describing it as a second “stab in the back.”

In July 2018, the Judea Military Court sentenced Faiz to 14 years in prison and ordered him to pay half a million shekels ($137,476) in compensation to the victim — a sentence viewed as more severe than is typical for the charge of aggravated assault.

Israeli soldiers wheel a wounded Nirit Zamora into the emergency room at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center on October 28, 2015, after she was stabbed in the back by a Palestinian attacker in the Etzion Bloc in the West Bank. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/File)

Nonetheless, the Military Advocate General petitioned the appeals court to harshen the sentence, following a pressure campaign from the Honenu legal aid organization representing Zamora.

In his Monday ruling, Benisho wrote that “the mere fact that he did not use a more lethal knife does not change the conclusion that arises from the circumstances of the case… that he intended to kill her.”

In a video statement recorded outside the courtroom, Zamora lauded Benisho’s ruling, while admitting that she wished it had come sooner, rather than as the result of an appeal.

Medics arrive at the scene of a stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion Junction in the West Bank on October 28, 2015. (Aba Ritzman/Magen David Adom)
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