An Israeli woman who was stabbed in the back by a Palestinian man in a West Bank terror attack has slammed a military court after the assailant was charged with aggravated assault and not attempted murder.
Three judges at the Judea Military Court ruled Wednesday that it was not possible to prove that Hamza Faiz intended to murder Nirit Zmora when he knifed her in the back at the West Bank’s Gush Etzion Junction on October 28, 2015.
In a statement responding to the sentence, Zmora said she felt that like Faiz, the military court had also “stabbed her in the back.”
“We expected a clear and unequivocal statement that the State of Israel does not lend a hand to the murder of Jews, and unfortunately, this is not what happened here,” Zmora added.
She was joined by a chorus of voices, including Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
Zmora survived the incident after being rushed to the hospital with the knife still wedged in her back. Doctors were able to successfully remove the weapon during surgery.
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 Zmora again. They also pointed to the fact that he stabbed her in the back and not in the chest with a relatively shorter knife (4.7 inches long) to argue that he may have only sought to injure the resident of the Beit Haggai settlement.
“Even when a stabbing offense is committed with a nationalistic background, it is necessary to point to the existence of an intent to kill, and when it is doubtful whether we are dealing with the intent to kill or intentionally cause harm, it acts in favor of the accused,” the judges wrote.
As the charge was being read on Wednesday, the shaken family of the victim began shouting at the judges, “this is a murderer we’re talking about!”
Haim Bleicher, an attorney from the right-wing Honenu legal-aid group representing the family vowed to act to ensure that the military prosecution would appeal the charge.
“It is inconceivable that the judges can ignore the nationalistic intent of this abominable act. A terrorist who stabs a Jew with is clearly intent on murdering,” he said.
On Thursday, the Justice Minister released a statement of her own panning the court for its “sad” decision.
“I’d like to enlighten the judges: when someone wants to kill he means it. A despicable terrorist stabs a Jewish woman, leaving the blade in her back, shouting “Allah is Akbar.” This person is a murderer,” Shaked said.
“I expect the military prosecution to appeal the ruling after the sentencing,” she added.
The Almagor Terror Victims Association similarly blasted the court’s decision Thursday calling on the Knesset to pass legislation distinguishing between “terror stabbings and violence committed between civilians and youths.”
The group appealed to Shaked and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, calling on them to ensure that the charge would be appealed.