The Jerusalem District Court sentenced Zvi Struck, a 28-year-old resident of the Shilo settlement, to 18 months in prison for kidnapping and abusing a 15-year-old Palestinian boy.
Struck was convicted on the charges of aggravated battery, kidnapping with intention to injure, causing damage and three counts of assault. In addition to the prison term, the court sentenced him to one year of probation, and ordered him to pay the victim NIS 50,000 ($14,100) in compensation.
"There is no doubt that the actions harmed the complainant, who was 15 at the time, in a grievous manner," Judge Amnon Cohen noted.
"I reviewed the medical records and the difficult photographs that were taken of the complainant immediately after the event, and I cannot avoid expressing disgust and deep shock over the signs of terrible trauma that the minor suffered."
The incident took place in July 2007; Struck and another suspect kidnapped and beat the Palestinian teen, a resident of the West Bank village of Kusra. The teen was later found unconscious in an open field, naked, tied and injured, after making it to a main road on his own. Passersby rushed him to a hospital in nearby Nablus.
In addition to the assault, Struck was also convicted for a previous incident, during which he met with the teen on the outskirts of Kusra and demanded him to leave the area claiming he was trespassing on his land. At that time he slapped the teen, and killed a newborn goat by kicking it.
"The character testimonies that I heard are not in line with the difficult actions that the accused committed," Cohen wrote. "Any punishment that does not include a prison sentence will not send the message that must come out of this court, considering the severity of his actions."
'Judge chose terrorist's version'
Struck is the son of right-wing activist Orit Struck, the chairman of the Human Rights Organization of Judea and Samaria.
"The fact that Judge Cohen chose the Arabs' version even though the primary witness is a terrorist, over the version of Zviki, an honest farmer, is appalling, insulting, erroneous and hostile," Orit Struck said. "The court very easily skipped over the discrepancies in the testimonies of the witnesses, and was determined to convict my son, who didn't do anything."
She also claimed that the fact that she is a prominent figure in the Hebron settlements has motivated the elements involved in the case to convict her son. "We are paying a price for being loyal to Israel and working for its benefit."
Zvi Struck insisted during the trial that he did not know the complainants and asserted that they were trying to incriminate him because they claim that he took over their lands.
Upon hearing the sentence, Struck's attorney Haim Cohen motioned the court to hold off implementing the sentence until a verdict is reached in the appeal, which he plans to file with the Supreme Court. The judge accepted the request, with the prosecution's consent. "We still claim that Struck is innocent, and hope that the Supreme Court proves his innocence." Cohen said.
Representatives of Yesh Din, a human right organization that tracks the authorities' handling of crimes perpetrated by Israelis against Palestinians and their property, said that this is a rare case in which the investigation and prosecution elements succeeded to convict the attacker on serious charges.
According to the organization's data, about 90% of the complaints filed by Palestinians against Israeli citizens end up dismissed for reason that point to the failure of the investigators, including insufficient evidence and unidentified suspects.
The victim's father expressed contentment with the verdict.
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