The recent passing of Adele Biton a”h triggered a new call for a tough new law in Israel against rock throwers, which continues to plague visitors and mourners to Har Hazeisim.
The 4-year old girl was gravely injured in a Palestinian rock attack two years ago that led to a collision between the car her mother was driving and a truck. Five Palestinians were subsequently charged in the attack.
Avrohom Lubinsky, Chairman of the ICPHH, said that “there should no longer be any doubt that rocks kill and is not merely a nuisance as the Israeli courts have apparently been relating to it with revolving door justice.” He added: “What is needed is passage of a new law that treats rock throwing like live ammunition and mandates severe punishment just like it does in more than 30 states in the US. In fact, it should appropriately be called “the Biton Law,” which would remind everyone about the horrific tragedy of the death of a little wide-eyed 4-year old girl.”
An important objective of the ICPHH will be to assure proper punishment for minors who perpetrate crimes as well as their parents. Mr. Lubinsky explained: “It is well-known that most of the rock throwing attacks are perpetrated by minors and that they hide behind the leniency of Israeli law with the full blessing of their elders in East Yerushalayim. This is an intolerable situation that must be addressed at once. Their parents must know that there are grave consequences for the behavior of their offspring.”
The ICPHH has asked all the parties running in the upcoming elections to publicly state their view on securing and developing Har Hazeisim. Its Israel representatives have also been meeting with many of the candidates who will take seats in the new Knesset for the first time. The purpose of these meetings is to assure that Har Hazeisim will be at the top of the agenda once a new Israeli government is formed, ICPHH officials explained. “This is obviously not a partisan issue and we have indeed received warm support from across the political spectrum,” said Jeff Daube, who co-chairs the Israel chapter of the ICPHH and who has participated in the meetings.
Founded nearly five years ago, the ICPHH, which is a broad based coalition of Jews concerned about the desecration and violence on the 3000-year old holy cemetery, has been instrumental in many major improvements on Har Hazeisim. More than 130 surveillance cameras are now operational as is a police substation. Despite these improvements as well as upgrades in the infrastructure and restoration of 20,000 of the estimated 60,000 destroyed graves during the Jordanian occupation (1948-1967), occasional violence continues on access roads with several serious rock attacks being reported in recent weeks.
An ICPHH delegation is planning to join its Israeli counterparts on a mission to meet with officials of a new government. Said Mr. Lubinsky: “Despite advances that we have made, we will not be satisfied until every visitor is secure.” He revealed that many new projects are scheduled for the historic cemetery including a Visitor’s Center and a new transportation hub.