The Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court decided last week to show leniency in the sentencing of a Palestinian charged of illegally staying in Israel after he saved the lives of two Jewish-Israelis who accidentally entered his village in the West Bank.
"The accused is a sort of a righteous among the nations," Judge Shamai Becker noted in his decision, referring to those non-Jews in Europe who saved Jews from the Nazis during World War II.
Becker only sentenced the man to 18 days in prison, which he already served while in custody.
"We mustn't sentence him to more time, as a show of gratitude for risking his life, his livelihood and his status in the village by saving Jews from a bitter end," the judge wrote.
The 38-year-old Palestinian man was charged with illegally staying in Israel, impersonating another person and using a forged document, among other offenses. He confessed and was convicted, but the judge determined there was no indication that he intended to commit property or security offenses.
The incident in which the Palestinian saved the lives of two Jews occurred late at night not long before Operation Protective Edge. A Jewish doctor and his son accidentally entered the Samaria village in which the accused lives and matters quickly escalated when a mob attacked them.
The judge called on the doctor to testify. "It was the first Thursday of Ramadan. There were lights and people on the street. I got nervous trying to cross the village as fast as possible and reached a do not enter sign. They told me to go somewhere, they must've misled me, I drove and they followed me," the doctor said.
"Someone opened the door and snatched my glasses. I snatched them back, drove fast and reached a dead end again. A family was sitting there and someone told me to take a certain road, saying 'no one will do anything to you.'
"I was very nervous. My son called the police at this point. A friend of my son was one of the three kidnapped (yeshiva students), and the policeman who answered the phone was the same one (who answered when one of the three teens called - Ed.). I thought I was going to have to look death in the eyes. The ground was burning.
"When we turned around out of the dead end, we were blocked by a vehicle and pelted with rocks. We drove in reverse for a bit and one man told me 'I want you to live, come into my house until the army comes to rescue you.' He let us in and called a Palestinian policeman he knew.
"It took 45 minutes for the army to arrive. There were dozens of people throwing rocks but he and his family - 20 people - stood around our car and wouldn't let anyone come near the house. They without a doubt saved our lives.
"The accused is one of the protectors. He stopped the rioters with his body from entering and reaching us. He's one of the ones who risk their life for me and saved me and my son," the doctor concluded.
The judge, who based his definition of the accused as a "righteous among the nations" on a definition from the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, said the man and his family were suffering from harassment in the village because they defended the two Jews.
"I believe the Israeli court ought to be grateful to the accused for his actions, and with that encourage such dangerous and altruistic actions in the future," the judge wrote in his ruling.
The judge noted that two other protectors from the same incident recently received an entry visa to Israel, saying that "without presuming to override the considerations of the relevant authorities, and without having the entire record of the accused's past and other circumstances, I find it appropriate to recommend the same right for him as well, as long as there are no reservations."
Attorney Rahamim Dayan, who represents the accused, said that "this was a brave decision of the court that constitutes as a precedent. I hope that the actions of the accused will lead to similar acts in the future."