A member of Jerusalem's so-called "Chastity Squad" who attacked a store owner and drove away his customers – is going to jail, The Jerusalem District Court decided Tuesday. Judge Nava Ben-Or sentenced Shmuel Weisfish, 24, to two years in prison following his conviction for several charges of violence against the owner of an electronics store in the ultra-religious Geula neighborhood in Jerusalem.
The judge stated that Weisfish would also have to pay NIS 50,000 ($13,881) in compensation to the store owner.
According to the indictment,
Weisfish took part in "Chastity Squad" protests that were regularly held outside the computer store, which the members accused of selling "non-kosher" MP4 players. According to the "Chastity Squad", the gadgets expose users to inappropriate content.
During these demonstrations, which began in June 2008, Weisfish would drive customers out of the store, damage merchandise and threaten to murder the employees and burn the store down.
He would also curse the employees and call them Nazis and pigs. The indictment describes events that occurred at the height of the protests against the store owner in August of 2008, when Weisfish assaulted the store owner and brutally beat him.
"He yelled, 'there won't be a store here, there won't be movies here' and together with his friends, called the store's manager a murderer. At a certain point, Weisfish and another man dragged the store manager out of the store, where they beat him," the indictment read.
The prosecution said that during one protest Weisfish and a fellow "Chastity Squad" members dragged the manager out of the store and held him down as their friends beat him, and in another demonstration he threw a rock at the store, injuring one of the employees.
During the reading of the sentence the judge expressed harsh criticism of Weisfish and his friends: "This is a case of wild and violent behavior which carried on for quite a few weeks…this isn't about joining in and participating in an isolated event which was followed by understanding of the severity of the act and expressing regret."
Bar-Or stated that "this was ongoing, premeditated activity where the store employees were right in front of the defendant. Decent people who only sought to make an honest living without idling away, while he makes their lives miserable day after day, or nearly day after day, insulting them, hurting them, threatening them, and eventually, causing severe physical damage to the store's manager."
She also attacked the haredi leadership for doing nothing in order to prevent the violence. "It's a shame that the leaders of this bunch of thugs to which the defendant belonged, who sat hidden in their homes, couldn't make it clear to their followers that there was a line that shouldn't be crossed. Maybe now they will understand that their behavior sends young loose canons out onto the streets, to pay the price for breaking the law while saving their souls."