State prosecutors said Sunday they will appeal the decision of the Beersheba District Youth Court to sentence a teenager to only five years in jail for the sexual assault of a 10-year-old girl last year, saying too much weight had been given to the perpetrator’s ostensible rehabilitation.
The apparent leniency of the teenager’s sentencing in November sparked a public outcry after he was convicted of assaulting the girl in her bed as her family slept during a burglary of their southern home.
The attack occurred in a community in the Ramat Hanegev Regional Council in early 2021.
The attacker was also ordered to pay NIS 70,000 ($19,500) in compensation.
“The state believes, that in view of the seriousness of the offenses, the honorable district court erred when it gave too much consideration to the rehabilitative process the defendant underwent,” the prosecutors said in a statement, pledging to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
Prosecutors had originally asked the court for a sentence of at least seven years.
The sentencing was part of a plea agreement in which the perpetrator admitted to an indecent act on a minor, breaking into a residence, and attempted sodomy.
The girl’s father praised the state for responding to the public outcry over the leniency of the sentence and launching the appeal process.
“I really hope that they will make his punishment harsher for the benefit of us all, because this type of harm needs to face the full force of the law — even if it relates to a minor. We still have a lot to fix as a society,” he told the Ynet news site.
The perpetrator, aged 17 at the time of the attack last year, along with another person, aged 16, entered the home as the family slept, while a third suspect, 21, waited outside in a car.
The two minors, from the Bedouin community of Neve Midbar, searched for valuables and entered a bedroom that the girl shared with her younger brothers, according to the indictment presented to the court.
Prosecutors said the suspect got into bed with the girl and began kissing and licking her face. When she protested, he sexually assaulted her.
According to Kan news, while the perpetrator admitted only to attempted sodomy as part of the plea deal, the girl testified that the assault did take place.
The girl cried out for her father and the two burglars ran away as they were chased outside. The group then escaped in the waiting vehicle.
The assault sparked protests in the south from residents, who demanded the government do more to curb a wave of crime in the region that they largely blame on gangs from nearby Bedouin communities.
Hundreds of residents of the Negev demonstrated, including members of the Bedouin community, demanding that the government restore security to the region.