Israel on Thursday charged five Palestinian teens with manslaughter over a fatal incident in which they are accused of throwing rocks at a man’s car in Jerusalem, causing it to crash and killing him last month.
Alexander Levlovitz was killed during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, when he was driving on a road in East Talpiot, a neighborhood of southern Jerusalem close to the pre-1967 Green line.
The five youths, aged 16-19, all residents of the adjacent East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher, admitted in their investigation that they threw the rocks at Levlovitz’s car.
Serving the indictments for the minors and adults at the same time was done after the government’s attorney-general, Yehuda Weinstein, approved such a move.
The prosecution decided at the last minute to pursue a manslaughter charge instead of murder, Channel 10 news reported. To win a murder conviction, the state would have had to prove the suspects threw the rocks at Levlovitz’s car with intent to kill.
The suspects were also charged with clandestine manufacture of weapons, hurling Molotov cocktails, aggravated assault and arson.
Some of the charges relate to activities the defendants took part in last year, which have only come to light during their investigation.
The suspects were identified by the Shin Bet as Muhammad Salah Muhammad Abu Kaf, 18, Walid Fares Mustafa Atrash, 18, and Abed Muhammad Abed Rabu Dawiat, 17. The fourth and fifth suspects’ identities was not revealed.
During their interrogation, according to the Shin Bet, the four admitted to setting out on the evening of Rosh Hashanah to attack Israeli cars.
Dawiat, according to the investigation, threw the stone that hit Levlovitz’s car.
The prosecution asked the court to hold the defendants in detention until the end of proceedings.
Levlovitz died of his injuries in the early hours of the morning after his car was pelted with rocks, causing him to lose control of the vehicle; he drove into a ditch and hit a pole, initially sustaining serious wounds. Police were investigating whether Levlovitz suffered cardiac arrest when his car crashed.
Two other people traveling in the car were lightly injured in the incident. The three were returning from an event celebrating the Jewish New Year.
Hundreds of people attended Levlovitz’s funeral, held immediately after the Rosh Hashanah holiday, including Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
“Abba [father], how will we go on without you, without hearing your laugh?” Levlovitz’s son Nir said at the funeral. “Abba, my love, rest in peace in the land, the country, and the city you so loved, the city where you were born, raised, and where you were murdered.”
Barkat said at the funeral that the government must “harshen the penalties and create deterrence” against stone-throwers.
“A teenager who decides to throw a rock bears the responsibility for his actions,” Barkat said. “He must know that he is capable of harm, and that after he is caught he will sit in prison for a long time.”