JERUSALEM (Aug. 14)
A 14-year-old boy and a 23-year-old married mother of a baby were the unlikely suspects taken into custody Tuesday by Jerusalem police for last week’s fatal stoning of an Arab motorist during an outbreak of Jewish mob violence here.
The woman, Rahel Kahalon, was ordered held in jail for another 10 days by the Jerusalem Magistrates Court.
The boy was not identified because of his age.
The victim, Izzat Halahla, 42, from Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, was the father of six children. He died Aug. 9 of brain injuries suffered when he was struck on the head by a brick hurled into his on the Hebron road in the southern part of Jerusalem.
Eyewitnesses reportedly pointed out the suspects. They also claimed that police officers witnessed the assault but did nothing to prevent it.
No evidence has been produced so far to refute that charge. If true, it is a worrisome sign that Jewish police may experience a psychological block when required to protect Arabs from assaults by Jews.
Apart from highlighting the deepening hatred between the Jewish and Arab communities here, the case provides troubling evidence of the double standard that prevails.
While the families of Jewish victims of terrorist acts receive financial assistance from the state, the Halahla family will get no compensation, because the suspects are not defined by law as “hostile elements.”
Jews, moreover, often receive light sentences for capital offenses when the victims are Arab.
LEVINGER RELEASED FROM PRISON
A case in point is Rabbi Moshe Levinger, the militant Gush Emunim leader from Hebron, who left jail a free man Tuesday after serving 13 weeks for the fatal shooting of Hebron shopkeeper Hassan Salah, 42, in September 1988.
Kahalon’s family protested outside the courtroom that the police had no evidence to hold her. But the magistrate said the evidence presented before him gave more than “reasonable grounds” to keep her in jail pending formal charges.
Police said they had a witness who saw Kahalon holding the brick that was thrown at Halahla’s car.
The incident occurred during three days of random assaults on Arabs and Arab property in Jerusalem and environs by Jews enraged by the brutal murders of two Jewish teen-agers, Ronen Karamani and Lior Tubol, outside Jerusalem on Aug. 4, presumably by Arab terrorists.
The police have made no arrests yet in the double slaying.
Nor have they arrested anyone for the fatal shooting on Aug. 6 of Aziza Jaber, a 25-year-old Arab woman whose car was riddled with bullets as she drove past the Jewish township of Kiryat Arab near Hebron.
Meanwhile, the token sentence given Levinger was protested by members of Mapam, the United Workers Party of Israel. In turn, the right-wing rabbi, hailed as a hero by his Orthodox supporters, blamed left-wing Israelis for the continuing intifada.
Levinger, who did his time at the Eyal minimum security prison, plea-bargained to get the original manslaughter charges reduced to negligence.
He told reporters he would not hesitate to shoot again if he felt threatened by Arabs. “I hope that next time I will be more careful not to miss the target,” he said.